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21 May 2020

As Stockport’s business community prepares for recovery post-coronavirus, a new website – www.skbusinessrecovery.co.uk is helping to support businesses through the phases of recovery.

The new website provides a portal to a wealth of information and support tools to help businesses quickly navigate their way through the complexities brought about as a result of the coronavirus. It has been designed to help businesses and the economy recover from the considerable impact of Covid-19, including a forum where users can seek advice, share experiences and discuss ideas.

The ‘SK Recovery’ website is also a platform to showcase innovation, where businesses have been inspired to revise their business models, to look for opportunities, to trial new ideas and to launch new products.

The website provides access to a valuable resource normally only available to those who have the means to secure an experienced and expensive executive board. The Stockport Recovery Support Board, a team of experienced professionals, are on hand to provide expert guidance via a regular webinar and to support businesses to develop their recovery plan.

The site also share ideas on how to manage the crisis on a day-to-day basis, and to build recovery for the future as the borough moves through the various phases returning to a new normal.

Cllr Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council, said:
“In a short space of time the coronavirus has dramatically affected the way we live our lives. This has left people feeling worried and businesses of all shapes and sizes have been left uncertain about their future.

“To help out, we’ve joined forces with businesses in Stockport to create a website for our business community. The SK recovery website will provide advice from experienced and well respected business leaders and contain forums where businesses can support each other.

“Our long term recovery lies upon our ability to help each other so collectively we can continue to deliver for everyone.”

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:
“Our recovery is going to be shaped around supporting Stockport businesses and within it, the local community. “The website will allow local businesses to develop closer links with one another, which can then support buying and using each other’s services.

“This is essential. By doing this, we can help ensure any economic benefits are retained within Stockport so we bounce back from this crisis strongly and begin to ‘build back better’.

“Alongside this, we are developing our longer-term economic recovery plan that will ensure Stockport remains one of the best places to invest and do business in.”
For more information, visit https://skbusinessrecovery.co.uk/

YouTube link to comment from Leader of Stockport Council, Cllr Elise Wilson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoRRDER3kn8&feature=youtu.be

28 January 2020

Pure Innovations, the Stockport charity supporting people with learning difficulties and autism, have taken over the running of the Windmill Coffee Shop, in Stockport Homes Cornerstone building.

The charity also run their Pure Cafés in Stockport and Oldham, as well as bakery and SKone members, The Kitchen, on Chestergate in Stockport. Pure Innovations will provide further opportunities at the Windmill Coffee Shop for the people it supports to gain valuable work experience and training opportunities within retail and hospitality.

Located on the ground floor of Stockport Homes Group’s Cornerstone building, on the corner of the A6 and Edward Street, the Windmill Coffee Shop takes its name from the windmill that previously occupied the site from 1784 to 1857, when it was demolished.

The windmill’s foundations were rediscovered when the Lamborghini showroom was demolished to build the Cornerstone building. The windmill originally powered the Edward Street Mill, before the advent of steam.

The coffee shop will offer a selection of lunches, cakes, drinks and snacks for customers, as well as bread made by the charity at The Kitchen. The new addition to Pure’s cafés will provide more of the charity’s clients will opportunities to reap the benefits of learning new work skills and having a valued role in the community.

Before Pure Innovations, the Windmill Coffee Shop was run as a social enterprise by Anne and Robert Wallace. The couple continue to run Start Point Coffee Shop in Woodley Precinct as a social enterprise.

23 January 2020

Stockport Council and Transport for Greater Manchester are set to request between £500m and £1bn from the Government to deliver an extension of the Metrolink line from East Didsbury to the town centre.

The Government has previously signalled its support in principle for the extension of the network, when the Greater Manchester Combined Authority released its ambitions to expand the Metrolink, potentially using tram-trains, alongside the rewrite of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework last January.

TfGM and the council have already paved the way for trams to integrate with other transport networks in Stockport; the £120m redevelopment of Stockport Interchange due to start on site this year factors in a Metrolink route and stop, and is backed by £40m of Government Growth Fund money.

Stockport Council and TfGM will now work up a business case for the Metrolink extension, which is set to cost between £500m and £1bn, and will also request Government grant the necessary transport planning powers at the same time as the funding. If funding is granted, a start on site could begin by 2025.

The council is arguing that the creation of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation, which is overseeing a 130-acre masterplan set to deliver 3,500 homes, and up to 1m sq ft of offices in the town, already brings together key stakeholders in the creation of the Metrolink, so could fast-track the implementation of the transport project.

Alongside the announcement of work starting on the Metrolink business-case, Lord Bob Kerslake was announced as the chairman of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation. Lord Kerslake has a background in local and national Government, with roles in the Homes & Communities Agency, Sheffield City Council and civil service. He is currently lead of the 2070 Commission, a think tank producing research into the economic disparity between the North and South.

At an announcement event in Stockport today, Burnham insisted that since the general election “the Government is listening” to requests from the North for much-needed investment in infrastructure.

“There is a national debate around the North, as well as delivering stronger towns and town centres,” Burnham said.

“Stockport is uniquely placed to deliver a new vision and show on a national stage what a northern town can be.

“When the Chancellor visited Stockport recently he was impressed with the progress on the Metrolink extension into Trafford, which is opening seven months ahead of schedule. We have demonstrated a track record for delivery, and with the creation of the Mayoral Development Corporation, it cuts through the potential time delays by getting all the necessary parties around the table, and puts us in a strong position.”

Commenting on the appointment of Kerslake, Burnham described it as “a real coup for Stockport”.

22 January 2020

BASF employs around 850 employees across 13 locations in the UK. Now, the company is moving its headquarters to Stockport Exchange, the town’s £145 million business transformation project.

BASF’sStockport Exchange is part of the company’s wider plan to be more competitive.

Richard Carter, managing director of BASF in the UK and Ireland, explains: “We are looking forward to moving to this exciting new ‘connected’ location later this year. Our new office space in Stockport Exchange will feature open and collaborative workspace to enable new and more agile ways of working.

“We want to establish a high-performance organisation to enable us to be successful in an increasingly competitive market environment. The move to Stockport is part of an ongoing Future of Work project which will deliver a better workplace experience through improved digitalisation, increased flexibility and empowered leadership.”

Cllr David Meller, cabinet member for economy and regeneration at Stockport Council, said: “Our vision for Stockport Exchange is to attract internationally renowned companies looking for, high quality development with excellent transport connections and with all the benefits of a modern town centre close by. We are delighted that BASF will be moving to Stockport Exchange.”

22 January 2020

Despite British Retail Consortium reporting 2019 to be the worst year on record for the retail sector, footfall in Stockport has risen by 21.45% over the important 8 week Christmas and New Year trading period from 11th November to 5th January.

In 2018 Stockport town centre attracted 1,681,000 visitors compared to 2,041,000 over the same period in 2019.

Last year, retail intelligence experts Springboard, forecast that overall UK footfall would decline by -1.5% in the four weeks leading up to Christmas whereas in Stockport actual footfall rose from 1,063,000 to 1,270,000 an increase of 19.5%.

Since launching in April 2017, Totally Stockport, the team behind Stockport’s Business Improvement District have been working hard to change people’s perceptions and attract new visitors into the town centre by hosting new and exciting family-orientated events throughout the calendar year. The BIG Day Out, Dinosaur Day, Christmas events and Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail have resulted in a huge swell in visitors. Throughout the summer, weekly footfall peaked at 337,000 delivering an additional £1,290,000 into the town centre’s weekly economy.

Stockport’s BID Manager Paul Taylor is not surprised that Stockport is showing such a positive growth in footfall:

“Stockport’s Business Improvement District’s main objectives since we launched in 2017 has been to improve the overall customer and visitor experience in the town centre.
“By putting on great events and supporting our BID levy payers, we have been actively working to attract more people into Stockport on a more regular basis.

“This summer’s Stockport Giant Leap Frog art trail was a fantastic example of our innovative approach and attracted huge numbers, many of whom were families who visited for the first time.
“We have changed people’s perceptions and demonstrated Stockport’s strength in creating a new audience for the many businesses who have been attracted by the opportunities that Stockport’s longer-term plan of investment and regeneration has provided.”

In November 2018, free WiFi was installed across the town centre enhancing the visitor experience for over 18,000 users. But, perhaps most importantly, the system also records valuable, anonymous data that provides intelligence used to measure visitor numbers and ensuring town centre based activities and events are what people want, attracting new and returning visitors while continuing to showcase the positive changes that are taking place across Stockport.

Steve Pilling, who opened the Produce Hall in the Market Place ‘with a bang’ earlier in 2019, saw traction gather very quickly which he says is good news and indicative of the fact that people like what has been created and is optimistic for the future:

“Pre-Christmas, post Black Friday and when the Manchester Markets finished business picked up and next year we will be on the radar.
“When the good weather is here the area is like Orange Square Madrid! Stockport has an improving town centre and we had visitors who told us they normally go elsewhere but changed their plans to visit us.”

Another barometer in the growth in town centre footfall has come from one of Merseyway’s longer-established retailers, McDonalds.

Store manager Matt Wood said that 2019 was much more positive than previous years:

“The new Merseyway Management team and the BID team at Totally Stockport have really helped drive footfall via events / family entertainment initiatives throughout the year.
“The first half of the year was challenging and saw the store struggle for incremental sales. From July, things have been much more positive with Footfall and Sales increasing which was undoubtably driven by the Frogs.

“Added to this, the store now offers “McDelivery” (food delivery provide by Uber) and this has driven a significant uplift in sales during the last six months.”
Last year, the store worked collaboratively with local “Leisure” businesses (Players Entrance / Go karts / Virtual Reality) and now offer all a Party delivery service and has fully participated in supporting the Merseyway family initiatives.

When asked whether McDonalds has enjoyed a good Christmas trading period, Matt said November and December were very positive in terms of footfall:

“Merseyway and the BID have done a fantastic job of offering a variety of entertainment throughout the weekends / holiday period. The Christmas Light switch-on was a success and worked much better on a Saturday. Guest count is improving and have been positive since June. We saw real peaks in August and December as you would expect. McDelivery is also providing a significant increase in sales and guest count. We have been encouraged over the last six months by the proactive approach from Merseyway and the BID. The Merseyway offering of entertainment every weekend has helped increase family footfall. As mentioned already, the Frogs / Christmas Light switch on and numerous other events have been a great success. If these initiatives continue this can only be a good thing for the Town.

Concerns remain regarding the number of empty units and filling these continues to be a huge opportunity for the Town to improve further.”
Christmas 2019 free events included an Ice Sculpture Trail and the Polar Express land train that drew families into the town centre on Sunday 8th and Sunday 15th December.”

13 January 2020

Research by Post Office Money has revealed Stockport to have the fastest growing house prices in the North of England, rising 10% in the last year. Average house prices in Stockport now stand at £225,000.

In the research, conducted by Opinium Research for Post Office Money using ONS data, out of 84 major towns and cities in the UK, Stockport was only one of three places with a double-digit percentage rise in house prices in 2019, alongside Nuneaton in Warwickshire and Leicester.

While house prices nationally have grown by a meagre 0.9% in the last twelve months, towns such as Stockport in the North and Midlands are bucking that trend. The research does not speculate on reasons why property prices may have grown so much in Stockport.

Post Office Money’s research suggests property investors and aspiring buy-to-let landlords should consider Northern towns like Stockport, as growth in house prices will offer better returns on their capital.

Chrysanthy Pispinis, Post Office Money, comments:

“The market as a whole may have slowed in the last year but many locations, especially in the Midlands and North, are continuing to see significant house price growth. These properties are potentially good mid-term investments, particularly as they sit in locations that continue to be affordable, even for first-time buyers, which can be a great indication of future growth hotspots.

“The number of households renting in the UK has increased from 2.8 million in 2007 to 4.5 million in 2017, a rise of 1.7 million (63%). This shows that there is still a real need for buy-to-let properties and therefore an opportunity for those looking for a New Year investment.”

In contrast to Stockport, house prices in the capital stagnated in 2019, and fell in other areas in the South such as Oxford, Woking and Cambridge.

6 January 2020

A global property services firm has said Stockport is among the ‘places to watch’ in 2020.

Caroline Baker, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Manchester office, said: “Great connectivity, clear vision and strategy, public sector support and increasing interest from developers and investors will come together to demonstrate how smaller cities and town centres can support a new wave of investment in urban centres, creating great sustainable and healthier places to work, live and enjoy shopping, leisure and cultural opportunities.”

Ms Baker predicted 2020 will remain “year of uncertainty” for the property market, despite the Conservative Party’s strong mandate following the general election last month.

She said: “2020 will remain a year of uncertainty in terms of our future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world set within the context of global economic trends and their potential impact on the property market.

“There is however certainty that a number of areas will remain priorities – how we respond to the housing crisis, how we deal with our ageing population and how we respond the renewed focus on the environment.”

She said that town centres will play a “critical role” in responding to these challenges.

“New homes on brownfield sites will take pressure off our Green Belt.

“Concentrating opportunities in well-connected locations and investing in modern energy efficient buildings will reduce our carbon footprint as well and enhancing their viability through enhanced footfall.”

29 November 2019

The Drum and Monkey on the outskirts of Alderley Edge, has been refurbished after a £300k investment from Stockport brewery, Robinsons Brewery and licensees Carl Entwistle and Simon Kalton. Following a seven-week project the new-look pub has now reopened.

Nicci Winsor, General Manager at the Drum and Monkey, commented:

“I’m excited to be a part of the new Drum and Monkey, and look forward to meeting all our guests, although I have already seen some familiar faces who visited my previous pub, The Ship at Styal.”

Previously known as the Moss Rose, The Drum and Monkey was purchased by Stockport brewery, Robinsons, in 1949, situated in the leafy village of Alderley Edge. The pub was in need of a makeover in order to develop the trading opportunity and give customers a more modernised venue to relax and dine in.

The pub now boasts a brand-new extension which can accommodate over 45 extra customers in cosy areas and new green velour and oak seating, looking out onto the greenery. Improving customer flow and pub trade, the expansion gives customers easier access to the patio and large beer garden.

Wayne Roach, Business Development Manager at Robinsons Brewery, said:

“The vision of the job was to keep it simple, and build on the pub’s relaxed charm and character. It was important to retain the quality pub feel with real fires, traditional ambience and atmosphere. Making it comfortable for drinkers and diners alike and growing the local trade.”

The toilets have further benefited from a full refurbishment, with the addition of dark grey wall tiles, black hexagon floor tiles combined with matching skirting and natural timber doors. The toilets also incorporate new universally accessible facilities.

Externally, there is new lighting scheme and the access road to the carpark has been re-surfaced for customer convenience and supplier deliveries.

22 November 2019

They brightened up the summer in Stockport but now the town’s resident giant frogs have hopped off for pastures new.

Eighteen of the 22 giant sculptures from Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail were auctioned off to the highest bidders on Thursday night, making a whopping £31k for charity.

Fans of the frogs packed into the auction at LSH Auto’s new Mercedes-Benz showroom in Stockport where more than 100 business owners, sponsors, artists, supporters and bidders joined Simon Charles Auctioneers.

Running concurrently online and live in the showroom, first under the hammer was Nexphibian, sponsored by Nexperia and painted by Nick Lowndes, circuiting the room before securing a forever home for £1,050.

Buster, depicting Stockport’s iconic 192 bus and fairytale character Sir Lovealot both hopped off with a £1,000 price tag while Stockport College’s Midas, Mrs Merseyway the happy shopper and BASF’s Chemit pipped them at the post for £1,100.

Sponsored by Orbit Developments, Sir Hopalot went for £1,500.

But it was the final trio that attracted the highest bids – Fanatical Freddie selling for £3,000, Marketing Stockport’s Strawberry Fields for £4,800 and Edgeleap for £5,000.

All the money raised will go to Stepping Hill’s Tree House children’s ward.

Deputy matron Claire Gibson said: “I’m thrilled and just keep smiling. We are so very grateful and excited about what this means for the children and young people who use the Treehouse Children’s Unit.

“The proceeds far exceeded any of our expectations and we are awestruck at the possibilities that such a large donation opens up to us.

“Our Treehouse building celebrated its 20th birthday this year and how wonderful it will be to give it a much-needed new lease of life.

“The ground floor of the building serves all of our outpatient facilities and outside garden area, while the first floor is home to our inpatient ward and assessment area.

“We would love to create a spectacular experience right from the front entrance to our building, where children and young people feel comfortable and even excited about coming into and the frog auction will enable this to happen.”

Sponsored by local businesses, the frogs were the brainchild of Totally Stockport, the team from Stockport’s Business Improvement District.

Totally Stockport’s BID manager Paul Taylor said: “When we first conceived the idea of the frog project, we never imagined just how successful it has been; over the summer thousands came to Stockport to follow the trail and discover all the frogs.

“To end the project with such a fantastic auction is truly amazing. A small dedicated team made all this happen and, on behalf of everyone involved, I would like to say a huge thank you to the sponsors, artists, local businesses who have supported us.

“LSH Mercedes-Benz Stockport have been fantastic and hosted a great evening and the team from Simon Charles Auctioneers gave their time for free, I really can’t thank them all enough.

“But I would also like to say a big thank you to the people of Stockport who have loved and respected the frogs; that has given us the confidence and the drive to do it all again, watch this space.”

15 October 2019

A new bridge to the town centre and a host of new routes are among the latest plans for revolutionising walking and cycling in Stockport.

The proposals form part of the The Bee Network – former Olympian Chris Boardman’s masterplan for transforming how people travel around Greater Manchester.

In Stockport the project will come under the banner of ‘Stockport Walk Cycle’ and aims to make journeys on foot or by bike easier and more attractive.

Town hall bosses are now asking residents for their views and suggestions on eight schemes – totalling nearly £18m – as they look to ‘take the lead’ in Greater Manchester. These include:

Heaton Norris Park Bridge (£6.8m) – A landmark cycling and walking route across the M60, linking Heaton Norris Park with Stockport’s town centre at the new Redrock development.

Improved walking and cycling routes through Heaton Norris to the north would complement the new bridge

The Heatons Cycle Link (£2.2m) – A package of measures which would create a connection of quiet routes between the Manchester Cycleway, known as the Fallowfield Loop, and the Trans Pennine Trail.

It includes quiet residential streets, off-road paths and new crossings for getting across busy roads.

Lower Bredbury to Brinnington (£400k) – This would create a walking and cycling route linking Brinnington and the Trans Pennine trail with Stockport town centre.

The scheme upgrades existing footpaths from Brindale Road to Welkin Road to allow use by cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians, while a new pathto Stockport Road West would be created alongside Welkin Road.

Offerton to Stockport (£1.2m) – A new and improved pedestrian and cycle route which would provide a continuous, high standard link between Offerton and the town centre that avoids busy roads.

It would link existing and new residential areas with the local cycle network, and also include a makeover for the Fingerpost Junction, including new paving and improved crossings.

Hazel Grove Links (£900k) – A package of measures to link communities and enhance walking and cycling on off-road routes around Hazel Grove – particularly in Torkington Park – and to improve access to its train station.

Bramhall Park to A6 (£4.1m) – A four km cycle link from Bramhall Park to Simpson’s Corner in Hazel Grove. This is intended as part of the Stockport East – West Cycle Route which will eventually extend from High Lane to Gatley.

It connects residential areas in Hazel Grove and Bramhall with Hazel Grove Leisure Centre, Bramhall High School, Bramhall Park and Hazel Grove High School.

A spur would link to the A555 at Brookside.

A555 Community Links (£1.4m) – Four new ‘safe and attractive’ links between the existing multi-user path along the A555 and residential areas, schools and retail areas in Bramhall, Heald Green and Cheadle Hulme.

The scheme includes the conversion of existing Public Rights of Ways to bridleways, the creation of new bridleways, and new controlled crossings over busy roads.

There would also also be improved cycle and footpaths between Newlands Avenue and Woodstock Avenue, including conversion of the existing pedestrian crossing on Gilbent Road into a pedestrian and cycle signal crossing with landscaping areas.

Cheadle Hulme Crossings Package (£800k) – This includes four signal crossings on busy roads in Cheadle Hulme to provide better access to the wider walking and cycling network and local facilities.

It is understood consultation on £57m of cycling and walking elements at the new Stockport transport interchange – including a landmark new bridge – will come under a separate consultation. The interchange is due to be completed by 2023.

Councillor David Meller, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, wants Stockport to be at the forefront of the region’s walking and cycling revolution – and says the input of the public will be vital.

He said: “We want Stockport to become pioneers when it comes to cycling and walking routes in Greater Manchester: I want us to lead on this in Greater Manchester.

“The Mayoral Challenge Fund is key to this aim and I want residents to let us know what they think about the proposals on the table. It’s absolutely essential these proposals have the support of local communities and we take a bottom-up approach.”

Councillor Meller said he hoped the new schemes would make Stockport a healthier and safer place to live.

He added: “Our main aim is to increase the number of our residents who cycle and walk to their destination – whether that be it to work or for leisure. Not only will this help us achieve cleaner air, but it will help achieve safer roads as well.

“Our proposals showcase our belief in the Greater Manchester Cycle Bee Network and the positives that it will bring to the environment and the region as a whole. I hope residents get involved with the consultation over the next few weeks.”

A four-week consultation on these proposals, which closes on November 4, has now been launched.