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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

i've been a long time lurker on this forum and find (most of) the contributions well informed, knowledgeable and very occasionally witty.

I was hoping to tap into your experiences as professionals to guage your opinions Stockport, Bolton and any other Greater Manchester towns outside the urban core.

What are your perceptions of these places? How well do you know them? Are they places you would invest? How would ytou rate the quality of the stock?

I look forward to your responses (or this thread sinking like a lead ballon)
 

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This is my personal, retail-related, view.

Stockport and Bolton aren't as thriving as they used to be, IMO. I think both have suffered from the likes of Middlebrook, Cheadle Royal and Handforth Dean.

Stockport seems to have gained a little with the market redevelopment (TK Maxx, etc.), but then lost it all with Tesco Portwood. Some heritage restoration is taking place in the Underbank area, but there are far too many empty units.

On the other hand, places like Bury and Ashton-under-Lyne seem resurgent, and have bucked the downward trend.

I haven't gone to Oldham or Rochdale for years, because it is/was so difficult to get to from the other side of town. However, Metrolink opening will make that easier.

It all went downhill after Dumplington opened. Only Manchester City Centre was strong enough to put up a fight.

Hopefully the new Greater Manchester Authority might have some backbone and stand up to more car-based superstore, with planning, transport and parking integrated into one authority, but I fear more of the same.
 

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This is my personal, retail-related, view.

Stockport and Bolton aren't as thriving as they used to be, IMO. I think both have suffered from the likes of Middlebrook, Cheadle Royal and Handforth Dean.

Stockport seems to have gained a little with the market redevelopment (TK Maxx, etc.), but then lost it all with Tesco Portwood. Some heritage restoration is taking place in the Underbank area, but there are far too many empty units.
Stockport has probably suffered more than most towns. 20 years ago all the rich Cheshire folk shopped there....M&S in the Precinct.

Then came Handforth Dean and Cheadle Royle to suck all the high spending customers out of retail.

Manchester Airport and the office complexes at Cheadle Royal then sucked all office demand out of the town.

Sky's new 500 seat call centre is a massive and welcome boost. The location next to the railway station (Stockport's greatest asset) and the bus station making it ideal and a lot more staff friendly then Cheadle `Middle of nowhere' Royal.

Perhaps with petrol rocketing more jobs will return to town centres?

Metrolink being a prime example!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your responses guys, very interesting.

What with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority / LEP I wonder what the future is for these towns?
 

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I now live in Stalybridge (formerly used to live in Eccles), which is a fantastic commuter town on the outskirts of East Manchester.

Has great transport links including a bus station, a train station [with victorian Buffet Bar] with direct links to NINE cities, including Manchester (15mins), Liverpool & Leeds (45mins)

Stalled residential developments have restarted, including a major project by Urban Splash.

Good town centre, with lovely old buildings, the renovated Huddersfield canal & River Tame running through and views of the stunning pennine hills in one direction and the city in the other!

2 parks in the town (Cheetham & Stamford), a nature reserve and Country Park

Plus, 10 mins from the M60 & 7 mins from Ikea! (I've counted!)

I for one like where I live! :)
 

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I now live in Stalybridge (formerly used to live in Eccles), which is a fantastic commuter town on the outskirts of East Manchester.

Has great transport links including a bus station, a train station [with victorian Buffet Bar] with direct links to NINE cities, including Manchester (15mins), Liverpool & Leeds (45mins)

Stalled residential developments have restarted, including a major project by Urban Splash.

Good town centre, with lovely old buildings, the renovated Huddersfield canal & River Tame running through and views of the stunning pennine hills in one direction and the city in the other!

2 parks in the town (Cheetham & Stamford), a nature reserve and Country Park

Plus, 10 mins from the M60 & 7 mins from Ikea! (I've counted!)

I for one like where I live! :)
Choggers, you may also have added the exciting night-life found in your fine town. Perhaps our new thread forming chum is unaware of the StalyVegas name?

Perhaps he should be told.

Manchester's premier night spot.
 

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^^ Busted! ;)

Don't really venture along 'the strip' at weekend nights, but the Station Buffet Bar is a wonder of a place which I regularly visit (especially for free crumpet tuesday & cask ciders!)

Living 5 floors up in a secure duplex means the nightlife doesn't really affect me - and the terrace ain't bad either! :)
 

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I used to have a drink on the station buffet when there was a train from Stockport. Used to get off the London train, trundle up to Stalybridge, have a drink and then walk to Ashton before catching a bus to Oldham.

I was in Stockport last month and was surprised to see it dying on it's feet. Great market hall with nothing in it, and a great street scape with lots of empty shops. Even that Co-op department store was shutting down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My question would be then, what future for these places then Isaac?

Allow the outlying towns to be swallowed up by the core agglomeration economy? Become a commuting belt?
 

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The contrast between Bury and Stockport is fascinating. On the face of it Bury, which is more 'working-class' and on the less fashionable 'North side' should have less going for it. But compared to Stockport it seems to be booming.

One factor may be the traffic. Stockport, at busy times, is a nightmare. Bury is relatively quiet and it has Metrolink! Ah, you may say, but Stockport has an excellent railway service. Yes, but the station is a long way from the town centre shops and most people won't walk that far. It's a pity that Tiviot Dale station didn't survive - much handier for the shops, it just had a lousy service and was quite deliberately run down. It would be virtually impossible to revive alas, unless Greater Manchester was suddenly given Cross-Rail levels of funding.

Ten years ago I'd have laughed at you if you'd said Stockport had anything to learn from Bury - now it wouldn't be funny, it'd be a good point.
 

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The contrast between Bury and Stockport is fascinating. On the face of it Bury, which is more 'working-class' and on the less fashionable 'North side' should have less going for it. But compared to Stockport it seems to be booming.

One factor may be the traffic. Stockport, at busy times, is a nightmare. Bury is relatively quiet and it has Metrolink! Ah, you may say, but Stockport has an excellent railway service. Yes, but the station is a long way from the town centre shops and most people won't walk that far. It's a pity that Tiviot Dale station didn't survive - much handier for the shops, it just had a lousy service and was quite deliberately run down. It would be virtually impossible to revive alas, unless Greater Manchester was suddenly given Cross-Rail levels of funding.

Ten years ago I'd have laughed at you if you'd said Stockport had anything to learn from Bury - now it wouldn't be funny, it'd be a good point.
I suppose being on the north side gives it a bit of breathing space from the Trafford Centre. Not only does Stockport have that hell hole to compete with, Cheadle has a JohnLewis and a bit further on is Handforth Dean, mopping up a lot of the non-Manchester bound south Manchster/Cheshire shoppers. I can't think of comparable competitors that Bury has to deal with, other than similar town centres such as Bolton/Rochdale/Oldham, not that sould take anything away from Bury's impressive/bold regeneration.
 

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Bury while half the size of all the other Boroughs is very concentrated with one centre, I think thats protected it from the same effect that happend in other boroughs where the secondary centres began dying off, partially due to online shopping and partially due to out of town competition. Whereas other Boroughs have seen their secondary centres hit hard with patronage falling below sustainable levels causing shops to shutter and speeding the fall in patronage. The Principal town centres (Bar Rochdale/Oldham due to unemployment issues) have held up better with higher critical mass and more investment in the quantity and quality of retail.
 

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I think Stockport also suffers that people from South Manchester, travelling in by train, will think they may as well head into the regional centre for the same change time it takes from Stockport (Edgeley) to Stockport Town Centre. Metroshuttle has improved that slightly but the steepness is obviously a huge psychological barrier for some.

The local centre at Edgeley also seems to have fallen on hard times, most of the shops are boarded up there too. I remember that being thriving too, circa mid-90s.
 

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My question would be then, what future for these places then Isaac?

Allow the outlying towns to be swallowed up by the core agglomeration economy? Become a commuting belt?
People shop differently. It's not necessarily the Trafford Centre or Manchester City centre that has killed Stockport.

Online shopping, outlet malls, going abroad.

Outlying towns are growing in some places, but their centres are shrinking. That's just the passing of time.
 

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Haven't been on in a while but just posted in the retail thread about my visit to Wigan on Saturday and Bolton the Saturday before.
Wigan seems to be outperforming a lot of other town centres at the minute, particularly nearby Bolton in terms of store sizes & as well as footfall from what I saw . I noted lots of new stores open or opening (Republic, a new menswear store I didn't grab the name of, B&M bargains but a very large on in the former BHS). Also a lot of Wigan's newer main stores in the Grand Arcade (fully or almost fully let) in comparison with Bolton's in the marketplace (around 70-80% let) are much larger and have a much wider choice to offer. I visited Bury also a few months back to the Rock and whilst it has the stores, the floorspace and the gleam it was very lacking in terms of footfall in comparison with Wigan & Bolton from what I saw.

I think all of GM's regional centres will be sufferers of the recession and there may yet be worse to come. I intend on visiting Altrincham and Oldham too soon for a bit of a change to the christmas shopping routine with my partner.

In my opinion after Manchester & The Trafford Centre, Wigan is looking like the most successful town centre destination in terms of lettings, footfall and development within GM.
 

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Vacancy rates about 5-8% in Wigan, national average is 12% and the worst in GM is Rochdale which is 25% I believe, while theirs been a huge increase in discount stores and money shops there is also very few vacant units in Wigan, also been a few mid sized indepedents setting up not chain stores and the boutique cafes are booming.
 

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AndrooGM
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http://www.wigan.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/0770C336-7134-4D9C-9C14-CA80ABE6A2B4/0/ExecutiveSummary366kb.pdf

The document which was published just as the Grand Arcade opened shows Wigan's retail catchment area in 2006 (population of which would be 367,546) as Wigan Borough (minus Tyldesley), Wrightington, Parbold & Skelmersdale (West Lancs), Haydock & Garswood (St Helens) as well as fringes of Chorley & Bolton. Although I would include area's such as Blackrod & Westhoughton as part of the catchment if this were a 2010 survey, due to Wigan's increasing retail and leisure presence over the past 3 years or so and they're close proximity. This i'm guessing would increase the retail catchment to just under 400,000.

It also discusses the decline of Leigh Town Centre, and the councils concerns at the time of how the Grand Arcade will effect growth in Leigh negatively.

Although Leigh performs an important role within the Borough, there are a number of indicators suggesting that the centre could become weaker and fragile in the future, particularly with the Grand Arcade shopping scheme opening in Wigan Town Centre.
http://www.bolton.gov.uk/sites/DocumentCentre/Documents/Retail%20and%20Leisure%20Study%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

Also a Bolton Council report from September 2008 (conducted December 2007) identifies a decline in Bolton Town Centre's viability due to competition from Manchester, The Trafford Centre, Wigan & Bury, as well as the inter-borough competition from the Middlebrook retail complex. For Bolton, 23% of short distance leakage is into Manchester, Bury & Wigan. And a further 6% into Preston. (This study was not long after Grand Arcade Wigan & Well before The Rock Bury so the 23% could well have increased).

So far as qualitative need is concerned, the overarching requirement is to improve the quality of Bolton town centre's comparison offer not only in relation to Manchester City Centre and the Trafford Centre, but also in relation to Middlebrook, Wigan town centre and Bury town centre.
The reports also go into detail about the smaller town centre's in the boroughs.
 

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I visited Bolton in April, and found it to be struggling although the food market is very good. I also visited Wigan the same day and it's market was a disappointement but the town itself had a more prosperous feel to it.

I visited Stockport in October to look at the market hall and again found it struggling. Stockport has a great streetscape, hills bridges. It would be nice if it could re-invent itself as a place not to volume shop but to speciality shop.

I would knock down the precinct and rebuild it on the site of the bus station, try to seperate it from the town centre proper and allow that to become a place of non chain shops.

If possible.
 

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Yeah the Market is a shadow of what it was a decade ago, though even then it was on the downwards. So many supermarkets opening and very few actual 'farmers' at the farmers markets. Theirs a small Continental market every couple of months with a handful of extra stalls; some crafts such as lacquer pots and knick knacks, Turkish food, Spanish food, Turkish sweets, French crepes (yep actually French though they hire some locals to man it). Nothing you wouldnt see elsewhere but its a nice change.
 
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