Saturday, 26 May 2012

Take me to the pilot

I recently posted about the decline of the pub scene around Stockport Market Place, and Moorendman extrapolated from this to a more general theme about the steady run-down of Stockport town centre.

So it’s interesting to hear that Stockport has been chosen to become a Portas Pilot town, receiving £100,000 from the government to revitalise the town centre, in a scheme inspired by retail guru Mary Portas.

This must be good news, but let’s hope the project remains grounded in reality rather than veering off into flights of utopian fantasy like the comment by Laurence Hennigan about Levenshulme’s bid that “the government grant would be used to spruce up empty shops, which would then be filled by start-up businesses selling art, crochet knitting and cupcakes.”

I would have thought a couple of obvious points in reviving the Market/Underbanks area would be more affordable short and medium term parking, and providing some decent public toilets at that end of town. And, while it’s clearly somewhat chicken-and-egg, the dearth of well-known restaurant chains in Stockport is very noticeable. Cheadle and Bramhall can sustain a Pizza Express, but not Stockport itself.

It’s also important to remember, as I posted here, the role that employment plays in keeping town centres busy and vibrant. You can’t consider the retail sector in isolation.

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