Cllr Oliver Ryan column: What lies ahead for Stalybridge?

COUNCILLOR Oliver Ryan, Tameside Council executive member for finance and economic growth, discusses the regeneration of Stalybridge in this guest article and how the town might look in 2030.

We stand at the beginning of a new decade and while it’s important not to be superstitious about this quite arbitrary point in time, many of us use this milestone to assess our ambitions, renew our aims and lay the foundations for our future prosperity.My new year resolution was a simple one, to do my part in helping make Stalybridge and Tameside the best place it can be. I am going into the decade knowing the Stalybridge of 2030 will be better than the Stalybridge of 2020.

This new decade is our chance. We can create a Stalybridge that embraces the future, a Stalybridge that’s known for its vibrant and welcoming town centre, that fosters new and sustainable development that creates new and decent jobs in future industries, where we’re forging ever better physical and digital connections and promoting a greater standard of living and happiness for all, wherever you live.

This Stalybridge is achievable, it is real, we are on our way there and it can happen.

As many of you will know the council has been successful in winning funding for a new Heritage Action Zone, bringing in substantial capital to the town which we’re match funding pound for pound.

This will not simply be a ‘Heritage Walk’ as many have sought to paint it, but a range of schemes and projects across the historic centre of the town. Most importantly, these schemes will include renovations to the civic centre and the market hall (bringing it into use as a leisure destination) as well as a shop frontage grant scheme and a fresh new programme of art and cultural events to promote out heritage assets and drive up footfall.

This all-encompassing package for the town is due to be agreed by the council’s executive cabinet in late February and is a real vote of confidence in the future of the town – watch out for more details including figures and delivery timetables very soon!Councillor Adrian Pearce and the Stalybridge Town Challenge continue to drive forward a comprehensive development strategy for the town and this board will also be launching a new action plan for the town off the back of the consultation completed last year.

This is a longer-term ambition for Stalybridge and practically means Stalybridge residents and elected members have more of a say about the future development and improvement of the town.

Keep an eye out for this in February/March.

We are developing a new borough wide parking strategy which must tackle the need for new capacity in Stalybridge, recently named Tameside’s most successful station by passenger numbers. I know you’ll be as frustrated as I am with the parking.

The Stalybridge of 2030 simply won’t be able to cope unless we get smarter about our whole transport network and our parking. We are also looking at the creation of a new transport interchange and new cycling routes to connect our town internally and externally.

Similarly, the Stalybridge of 2030 cannot be the vibrant and open place we want it to be without high quality cultural, heritage and arts events. We’re so lucky to have the amazing Cheetham Art Gallery as well as a range of historical buildings.

Indeed, Stalybridge’s Cllr Leanne Feeley brought the Tameside Lantern Parade to Stalybridge, which had a bumper turnout, and was responsible for the Royal Exchange Theatre bringing their pop-up theatre here in 2019.

We have so much to offer the world as a town by way of arts and culture, and I know that the next 10 years are bright for our arts scene.

This will be a decade of positive change for Stalybridge. Stalybridge is a Tameside success story.

The town is a true home of culture, heritage, industry and development potential, as well as some of our best year-round events and almost certainly our best pubs and nightlife.

Now, I know some of you will have read this thinking ‘I’ve heard all of this before, a random councillor waffling in the paper, nothing new, show me change’ but there’s purpose to this narrative – I need you to know we believe in Stalybridge, we want Stalybridge to reach new heights in its growth. We want to see the fruits of this growth felt by all in our town.

Stalybridge can be a unique and thriving Pennine town to rival its neighbours. We have plans to match your aspirations. This can be the decade that defines our town for the next hundred years, if we believe together and work together to achieve it.

If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to email me: oliver.ryan@tameside.gov.uk

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