Tameside Council has shown their commitment to investing in Stalybridge Town Centre by formally agreeing to match fund the successful application to Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone initiative. With the final outcome of the bid due at the end of March, the council could receive up to £1.27 million of funding meaning a combined total of £2.54 million could be invested into the town centre.
The authority’s executive cabinet was shown an action plan that will soon make it possible to start turning ideas into reality.
Members also saw the findings of a questionnaire which asked the public what they would like to see in Stalybridge. Suggestions included more support for shops and businesses, a river walkway, cultural and arts activities, new cycling routes, and a cleaner, brighter environment.
The money has been earmarked for a range of projects including a shop-front grants scheme, community engagement, more town-centre events to follow on from the lantern parade and cycling festival, and a look at the possibilities offered by the civic hall and Astley Cheetham Art Gallery.
This follows on from work already under way to look at repurposing space in the town and to create a heritage walk from the railway station, along Market Street, and towards Armentieres Square.
Stalybridge was put forward as Tameside’s entry when metro mayor Andy Burnham launched his Greater Manchester Town Centre Challenge two years ago. It’s an ambitious scheme to regenerate urban centres across the city region by raising their profile so they have a better chance of attracting investment.
The plan is being implemented with the help of the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge Board – a working group comprised of local representatives.
Cllr Oliver Ryan, Tameside Council’s executive member for finance and economic growth, commented: “Stalybridge has so much to offer. As the people who answered our questionnaires were quick to point out, it’s steeped in history, has a unique riverside location, excellent transport links, and is ideally placed for access to Manchester city centre and the countryside.
“We’re looking at lots of intriguing ideas. Last summer’s highly successful festival of culture, when the Royal Exchange staged performances at a pop-up theatre called The Den, demonstrated how much culture means to the town.
“The package we’re putting together represents a real vote of confidence in Stalybridge. I’m very excited about the town’s future and I’m sure the residents will be too when our plans are finalised.”