Plans for a Metrolink extension from East Didsbury to Stockport came a step closer today after The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham announced that former head of the Civil Service, Lord Bob Kerslake, has been appointed as Chair of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) in a major move to help boost the ambitious regeneration plans for the town centre.
Lord Kerslake’s experience at the heart of Government, combined with his understanding of how development corporations can work effectively in a regional political context, will be invaluable as Stockport Council progresses to create a highly sustainable new community in Greater Manchester’s newest, coolest, greenest urban neighbourhood.
At a time of uncertainty for town centres across the country, Greater Manchester’s innovative use of Mayoral Development Corporation powers is the first time anywhere in the country that an MDC has been used to regenerate a town centre.
The pace of change already under way in Stockport, including plans to create a new urban village with up to 3,500 new homes and up to 1,000,000 sq.ft of employment floor space, demonstrates the city-region’s ambitions to kick-start regeneration in proud towns right across Greater Manchester.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester has also restated his and Stockport Council’s bold ambition to add Stockport to the city-region’s Metrolink tram network and called on the government to work with the town’s MDC to fast track its delivery so that work can start by 2025.
Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council, said: “It has been a long-held ambition of the Council to bring the Metrolink network to Stockport and today’s announcement brings us a step closer to making Stockport one of the best connected towns in the North. I am delighted that we can now move forward with this.
“The Mayoral Development Corporation will allow us to accelerate regeneration and we’re keen to extend Metrolink from the existing East Didsbury line to the new Stockport Interchange as quickly as possible. It also builds on plans for a sustainable new community as part of Greater Manchester’s newest, coolest, greenest urban neighbourhood.
“There’s still a lot of work to do but this is a hugely significant moment in our ambition to make Stockport a first-class location for residents and businesses and attract the very best to the borough. The benefits to Stockport are enormous and I’m excited about the possibilities that today’s announcement will bring. It will open up opportunities and connect our communities like never before, giving access to jobs and education and much more.
Cllr Wilson added: “Lord Kerslake will be a great champion for the MDC and will help us realise our ambition to bring Metrolink to Stockport. I look forward to working with Lord Kerslake and the MDC board to take this forward.”
During the recent general election campaign, the Transport Secretary committed to bringing Metrolink to Stockport. The Mayor welcomed this commitment but today reiterated that Government must assist both with the powers and funding required.
Andy said: “Stockport is already leading the way nationally on town centre regeneration and today raises the bar to a new level.
“The fact that a former head of the UK civil service has agreed to Chair the Stockport MDC is a sure sign of the confidence in Stockport Council’s vision for the town. Lord Kerslake’s appointment is a major coup and we hope he will now help us develop a credible plan to bring Metrolink to the new interchange.”
The MDC’s powers and regeneration focus, along with its ability to bring all partners in the Stockport area together, provides Greater Manchester with an opportunity to apply for the powers to implement transport improvements in parallel with applying for the funding – so that construction on a Stockport Metrolink extension can begin by 2025.
TfGM and Stockport Council will now progress with the Business Case needed to extend Metrolink from East Didsbury to Stockport town centre.
Andy Burnham added: “During the election campaign, the Transport Secretary committed to bringing Metrolink to Stockport and we stand ready to make it happen quickly.
“However, we need the government to give us the powers that we need in parallel with the funding, so that we can fast-track Metrolink from East Didsbury to Stockport. Greater Manchester has already demonstrated its track record of delivering ambitious and major infrastructure projects on time and on budget with the right funding and powers in place and we want to continue this track record here in Stockport and deliver growth, jobs and investment in the town.”
Lord Kerslake said: “These are exciting times for Stockport and for Greater Manchester so I am delighted to take on the role of Chair of the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation. I have been impressed by the scale of the ambition that Andy Burnham, Stockport Council, and Homes England have for the area and I am very encouraged by the development that has taken place in Stockport so far.
“Joining the MDC at this stage gives me the opportunity to use my expertise and experience to help shape the next phase of Stockport’s journey and deliver a truly exceptional regeneration initiative that will make Stockport an even more attractive place to live, work, and play”.