Ambleside convenience store saved

CAMPAIGNERS have won their battle to save a convenience store on the facility-starved Ridge Hill Estate in Stalybridge.

Jigsaw Group has abandoned plans to demolish a row of shops on Ambleside after taking on board the opposition, which included a petition containing the signatures of more than 500 customers.Jigsaw, formerly New Charter, had planned to replace two blocks of flats, one of which has already been razed to the ground, with 35 new homes.

The row of shops, which include a base for the Big Local and the apartments above them will now be refurbished.

The news was welcomed by Ibrahim Noor, manager of Waz Convenience Store which had been under threat.

Ibrahim described the store as a “lifeline” for locals, especially the elderly community at Kendal House.

He said: “We are happy with the news and it is great for our customers.

“We are close to Kendal House and have some great customers who would have nowhere to go to shop locally if our shop disappeared.”.

Ibrahim added convenience store owner Arshad Mahmood has plans to expand by opening a post office within the building as an extra service for the community.

Stalybridge North councillors Adrian Pearce, Jan Jackson and Sam Gosling had been campaigning to save the shops.

In a statement, the councillors said: “In June, we opposed a planning application by Jigsaw for the redevelopment of Rydal Walk.

This would have seen the loss of the shop and community facilities without any replacement. We agreed with residents that it was unacceptable that at the same time as local bus services were being cut, local facilities were being closed.

“We proposed instead that a more comprehensive plan should be adopted which included retaining the shop and other community facilities as well as building new housing.

“After six months, we finally persuaded Jigsaw that a more comprehensive scheme was possible.

“A planning application will now be submitted to retain the existing shops, provide space for the Big Local, refurbish flats in the remaining block, construct new housing as well as environmental improvement and parking provision.

“This is a terrific outcome for the local community and a testimony to the joint working with the Big Local, Waz Convenience Store and residents.

Jigsaw had been granted permission to demolish the row of shops as part of a redevelopment plan for the area.

Councillors intervened after Jigsaw made a planning application for new homes on the site.

They argued Jigsaw’s planning application contravened Tameside Council’s Unitary Development Plan which contains its land use planning policies relating to the loss of amenities.

Garnet Fazackerley, Operations Director – Development at Jigsaw Group said, “Jigsaw Group previously submitted a planning application to carry out a much needed redevelopment of the Rydal Walk and Ambleside properties, creating new affordable housing for rent.

“We listened to the feedback received in response to our original plans and subsequently held discussions with the residents of the commercial units effected by our proposals and councillors in the area.

“As a result, our revised plans for Ambleside include retaining the block of shops, while also refurbishing the maisonettes above the retail units.

“We discussed these plans with Councillors in a meeting in December last year and they were happy with our proposals. We are in the process of arranging a formal pre-application meeting with the Tameside Planning department to review our proposals, before we are able to submit a new application.”

• Local councillors have also ensured the voice of Stalybridge residents, including Ridge Hill Estate, was heard by submitting a response to the Greater Manchester bus consultation which closed on January 8.

There have been long-standing issues relating to bus services on the estate.

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