Frustration over lack of progress on Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge

A POTENTIAL stakeholder in the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge has voiced his frustration at the lack of decisive action in the two-and-a-half months since the public consultation.

Chris Middleton, a commercial surveyor with Bruntwood, a retail and leisure company reported to be worth £1.4 billion, believes more ought to have been done to make the dream of regenerating the town centre become a reality.

Chris, who lives on the Mottram side of Stalybridge, has no formal involvement in the town centre challenge but is keen to participate due to being a resident.

“I handed out business cards on the day and spoke to people on the town centre challenge board,” explained Chris.

“I was told they would be in touch, but there has been silence since then.”

Chris described the consultation as a “quite positive day”, adding the town centre challenge board ought to be building on that momentum and not allow it to wane.

He added: “It seems to be everything is taking far longer than it should be. That wouldn’t happen in the private sector.

“We have had a report on the consultation day and its contents is great. It has been reviewed and digested and there are points that can be taken forward.

“As there is a consensus that a food hall (in the old market hall) would be the catalyst, there is no reason why architects should not already be on board.

“They could already be drawing up plans about how many units there could be and the visuals.

“As it stands, the only thing happening is that weeds continue to grow out of the roof.”

Chris, whose work encompasses the retail, leisure, food and drink sectors with his property company employers, believes it is important to maintain the momentum from the consultation at which nearly 600 people gave their views.

He continued: “If there is no urgency, you lose traction.

“We got people to engage and, when you do nothing, they become ambivalent.

“I am trying to talk a bit of sense but not had an opportunity to put over my thoughts.”

Chris believes Stalybridge former market would be an ideal venue for a food hall.

He said: “Everybody is banging on about the market at Altrincham and Mackie Mayor in Manchester.

“Urmston is having a new build market hall, Macclesfield has one and Stockport has a produce hall.

“It is more than an emerging trend that will become dominant in the next few years.

“We have a beautiful building in Stalybridge, certainly more impressive architecturally than Altrincham, so why would people not invest in it? It would certainly work for food.”

Chris believes realistically it would be at least 12 months before a food hall in Stalybridge would be up and running.

He continued: “If we can secure an investor and submit plans that would be a big step forward, but we are a long way off that.

“It’s frustrating as the building is just sitting there with ever-growing weeds coming out of the roof and it is sterile environment.”

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