DEVELOPING brownfield sites could create around 500 new homes in Stalybridge town centre.
Concerns have been raised, however, about the lack of parking which is acute now without any further development.
It is a worry for Stalybridge Business Forum whose chairman Peter Taylor who recently criticised Tameside Council’s sale of the Leech Street/Back Melbourne Street car park to supermarket Aldi, a decision described by Cllr Doreen Dickinson as “short-sighted”.
And those fears have been heightened as two of the brownfield sites earmarked for development are town centre car parks.
The car park on Castle Street, where Stalybridge Indoors Sports Centre once stood, is earmarked for 51 homes while the site of the former Wellington pub could have a further 24 built.
Trader Lee Stafford said: “If these developments go ahead, where will shoppers, residents, commuters and visitors park?
“There is already a shortage of car parks without the new homes and cars their residents will have.”
Mr Stafford attended the last Stalybridge Town Council meeting when the possible future regeneration of the area between Stalybridge railway station and town centre was discussed.
That was said to be driven by residential development coupled with retail and leisure facilities.
Mr Stafford said: “That would mean even more cars for those homes. Maybe a huge car park would be included in those plans.
“We cannot find out more details, though, as when we ask questions we are met with a refusal due to it being ‘commercially sensitive’.
“We need to see the bigger picture as Tameside Council won’t reveal their plans for Stalybridge.
“The traders believe it would be sensible to consult the people of Stalybridge. We are concerned as everything seems to be done behind closed doors.”
Cllr Dickinson, who opposed the sale, said: “It was absolutely short sighted to sell the car park for nearly £300,000. I am sure the cost in lost business will be more than that. Now it is sold, it has gone for ever.
“Motorists can park for one-and-a-half hours at Aldi and three hours at Tesco, but only through the kindness of the two supermarkets.
“Wetherspoons spent more than £1million on their premises, but there is nowhere for customers to park.
“We were trying to promote weddings in the Civic Hall, a beautiful venue. But the only parking is at Tesco so you can’t expect guests to run out after three hours to move their cars. It’s ludicrous and shows a lack of foresight.”
Cllr David Sweeton is calling for a strategic plan for Tameside to co-ordinate development as well as forming an integrated transport system, not only in Stalybridge but throughout the borough.
He criticised the council for previously overlooking infrastructure and acting piece meal.
Cllr Sweeton said: “I want the brownfield sites developed as it will help Stalybridge become a vibrant and working town.
“I want it to be developed for housing and commerce and don’t want swathes of greenfield above Stalybridge swallowed up.
“In the past the council hasn’t though of the implications. You can’t build willy-nilly and need to think of the infrastructure – schools, dentists, doctors, hospitals, roads.”
Cllr Sweeton added that any regeneration of the area around the railway station must include a dedicated car park for commuters.
He explained: “MP Jonathan Reynolds has done a decent job promoting Stalybridge as a commuter hub and you have people from Mottram and Hollingworth rocking up.
“Any infrastructure plan has got to recognise it, and any plan for land behind the station has got to include a multi-storey car park for the station.
“If that doesn’t happen, it will push people further out, gridlocking the town.”
The main sites for Stalybridge listed in Tameside Council’s Brownfield Land Register that was published on December 13, 2017 are:
• 259 homes on land in West Stalybridge (Market Street/
• 57 apartments at Summers Quay under construction
• 51 on Castle Street car park
• 38 apartments currently under construction on Castle Street
• 24 on site of former Wellington pub, Caroline Street
• 18 apartments former Stalybridge Police Station
• 15 at former Stalybridge Clinic on Stamford Street.
• 8 at former Union Bank Chamber.
• 6 at former car park on Stamford Street
• 6 at Pineapple pub
• 5 at site of former town centre commercial unit.