Why is a plan needed now?
The last comprehensive development plan for Stalybridge town centre was prepared 22 years ago by Cheshire County Council. This provided a sound framework for improvement of the commercial area, with the Grosvenor Street by-pass, the large off-street car parks and the pedestrianised streets all originating from it. However, the plan only covered a fairly small area and other elements of it are no longer realistic.
The idea of producing new proposals began in 1987, so as to grasp the development opportunities arising from restoration of the Huddersfield Canal through the town centre, which the Council has resolved to support. In parallel with this the Council has adopted a policy of improving the Borough's shopping facilities by promoting the enhancement and development of the established town centres. However, a decline in the economic fortunes and appearance of Stalybridge’s commercial area has become apparent recently, coupled with a general air of uncertainty about future prospects. The time is therefore right for these important issues to be tackled in one comprehensive plan looking forward to the turn of the century, which it is hoped will receive widespread support.
Commercial decline, or a new role for Stalybridge?
There are signs that a gradual cycle of decline has set in for Stalybridge as a shopping centre, fuelled by competing pressure from the latest retail developments in and around the Borough with their easy access and large free car parks. If there is no strategy to arrest this process, Stalybridge may in time become essentially a residential and industrial suburb, serving little more than neighbourhood shopping needs.
This Draft Plan recognises the expectations which most people now have of a shopping trip and also the status of Stalybridge relative to larger centres in the surrounding area. It puts forward a strategy for survival and future success as a centre offering something individual and different to draw people in. The package of proposals aim to regenerate the town centre and inject a new impetus, based on the twin themes of creating attractive, modern, accessible shopping facilities whilst also building up the tourist and heritage appeal concentrated around the exciting canal-into-river project. At all stages of development high quality design and materials will be required, to bring out the towns distinctive character.
Who will carry out the proposals?
The Draft Plan contains many proposals, which would only be achieved in full over a considerable number of years and with the injection of large amounts of finance. Most of this will have to come from the private sector and one major purpose of the Plan is therefore to point property owners and developers towards the potential and opportunities which are awaiting realisation. The Council will nevertheless have a vital role to play, both in carrying out schemes such as environmental improvements which act as a catalyst to attract private investments, and in campaigning for support from other public sources including the E.E.C.
A Summary of the Proposals for Specific Sites
K1 to K7: Sites to the west of the town centre which have potential for development, mostly for industrial purposes, but require amenity treatment alongside the river or canal.
K8: Commercial and industrial development on the land between Bridge Street, Caroline Street and High Street, incorporating restoration of the canal channel and provision of a boating marina.
K9: Large scale engineering work in the River Tame from Bridge Street to Northend Road to allow navigation by canal boats, with new locks to and from the original channel at each end also within the river section itself. Provision of a river / canalside promenade behind Market Street, terraced gardens around the Town Hall site and landscaping at Old Street and Cocker Hill gorge.
K10: Major retail development scheme behind Melbourne Street, Grosvenor Street and Castle Street, providing a new indoor market hall, supermarket and several smaller shops. To incorporate a covered walkway, connections to the existing precinct and additional car parking.
K11: Wholesale improvements to the precinct including paving, lighting, seating and shop front canopies. Extension of the precinct along the remainder of Melbourne Street to reach Market Street.
K12: Redesign and expansion of the public car park at the eastern end of Grosvenor Street, to balance out parking at the new retail scheme and replace losses elsewhere.
K13: Relocation of the Bus Station to Armentieres Square, to provide improved access to the shopping centre for non-car users. Redesign of the remaining parts of the Square, mainly for disabled parking, motorcycles and taxis
K14: Reorganisation of the service yard between Grosvenor Street and High Street and replacement of the subway by a pelican crossing.
K15: Small car park at west end of Grosvenor Street and formation of a private garden for residents.
K16: Redevelopment potential for Longlands Mill, Castle Street, with possible residential, specialised retail, office or leisure uses taking advantage of river / canalside location. To include realignment of sharp bend on Castle Street.
K17: Further development of uses at S.I.D.S., Castle Street, and improvement of parking facilities.
K18: Refurbishment and appropriate new commercial or cultural uses for the Victoria Market Hall, Trinity Street.
K19: Consolidation of industrial uses between Trinity Street and Mottram Road
K20: Road widening, realignment and junction improvements along Stamford Street and Mottram Road through the length of the Plan area. To deal with the existing congestion and expected growth of traffic after opening of the M66 in Tameside.
K21: Improvements to the railway route through the Plan area, by lineside planting, cleaning / painting of bridges, refurbishment of arches for modern commercial use and expansion of parking facilities for rail travellers.
K22: Redevelopment of the Tenter Brow area through mixture of new housing and landscaped gardens.
K23: Reorganisation of traffic movement in the Waterloo Road, Market Street, Water Street area and provision of a new public car park on the existing bus station site.
K24: Removal of surplus buildings in the yard around the Community Centre, Waterloo road to provide further public car parking. Possible extension of the centre.
K25 to K27: Potential for appropriate commercial uses at Bingo Hall, Thorn House and Old St. George’s School, in area between Market Street and Stamford Street.
K28 to K29: Rationalisation of existing uses and access, residential or industrial development potential and environmental improvements in the area between the River Tame and North Road.
K30 to K34: Numerous small sites with development potential for either residential or industrial purposes, or requiring environmental improvements, traffic measures or tree protection.
Policies covering the area as a whole
L1: Simplified Zone Map to provide general guidance to the public and developers, splitting the area according to residential, industrial, commercial, community, open space or multiple uses.
L2: Provision of a marked and publicised walkway or town trail along the Tame Valley through the length of the plan area, linking to other routes at each end.
L3: Control commercial uses within the town centre, to avoid the spread of non-retail frontages within the main shopping area but allow a greater range of activities outside this zone.
L4: Designation of the Victorian / Edwardian part of the town centre around Waterloo Road, Market Street and Trinity Street as a Conservation Area. To give the Council control over demolition and encourage higher standards of repair or extension.
L5: Promotion of a “Town Scheme Trust” in association with English Heritage, to increase the availability of grants for repair work in the Conservation Area and stimulate greater interest and pride in the older buildings. Formation of a widely based consultative committee to channel ideas and promote the development of the town centre.
L6: Careful control of shop front design, to make the best of local features and enhance the appearance of the commercial area.
L7: Need for a comprehensive policy on car parking, including investigation of the benefits of free short stay parking in winning back lost trade. Appropriate provision for disabled drivers, motorcycles and taxis.
L8: Recognition of the special needs of disabled and elderly people, women and young children in the design of new developments and pedestrian areas.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PLAN?
So far, the Council has only approved these proposals as a basis for public participation. We now want to hear from people who live or work in the area, who run a business there, who visit it for shopping or entertainment, or who have an interest in its future for any other reason. This leaflet provides a brief summary but if after visiting the exhibition you want to study the Draft Plan in more detail the full version may be purchased from the Planning Department for £3.00.
Please let us have your comments, whether favourable or now, but preferably in writing, before the end of November.
Director of Planning