A PLAN to inject ‘new life’ into Stalybridge will not involve the pedestrianisation of Market Street.
Councillor Adrian Pearce, chair of the Stalybridge Town Challenge board, allayed fears the proposal was back on the agenda.It came in the wake of the revelation that Stalybridge is one of 69 high streets in England which will be revitalised by a £95 million injection from the Government’s Heritage High Street Fund.
When Councillor Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council’s executive leader, revealed the Stalybridge bid was to secure funding to create a heritage walk from the railway station along Market Street into the town centre, that sparked concerns that it could be at the expense of vehicles.
But Cllr Pearce reassured the public, saying: “This won’t involve pedestrianisation. To do that we would have to change the traffic system would be expensive.
“What the scheme will entail is restoring a lot of buildings and upgrading and improving facades.
“When people get off the train, I am sure they don’t fancy walking down Market Street which needs a lot of work doing to make it more attractive.
“It will be about making a better route from the station to the centre where there are quality buildings like the market hall and library.”
Cllr Warrington had earlier revealed the proposal for Stalybridge will create a new ‘historic quarter’ with a signposted heritage walk from the railway station along Market Street into the town centre.
And the proposal would also entail creating public art, events and performances.
Tameside Council has to come up with a definite plan for Stalybridge before a final decision on the level of funding is made in January.
Cllr Pearce added: “We have been given an agreement in principle that we will be getting money from the fund, but now have to work out the detail.
“It is positive news that we have a foot in the door when it comes to getting funding.
“It could potentially be a lot of money if we get things right and be a catalyst to get other funding to help regenerate Stalybridge.”
Cllr Pearce added it will be imperative to demonstrate a sound economic case.
He said: “We have had shop frontage schemes before which have only been cosmetic with no long-term benefit.
“We need to be looking at the long term rather than a five-minute paint job.”
Cllr Pearce added there are empty and under-used shops and facilities on Market Street.
“If we can improve the footfall along Market Street and link it to the historic quarter, we are beginning to solve one of the problems in Stalybridge,” he said.
Cllr Pearce pointed out news about the windfall from the Heritage High Street Fund is positive news following little visible signs of progress since Stalybridge won the Tameside nomination for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge in February 2018.
He explained: “People expect it to be done yesterday, but it was always going to be a long-term project and waiting for the right opportunity.
“It is not a huge amount of time since we became involved with the Town Centre Challenge though for some people it will seem forever.”