Redevelopment of Stockport’s Grand Central leisure complex receives public backing after £5 million investment announcement

By Andrew Little

The investment into Stockport’s Grand Central leisure complex is being welcomed by the public and local chamber of commerce.

Last week, Stockport Council secured a £5 million grant to build a 1,420 space multi-story car park on the site next to Stockport Railway Station and Grand Central.

This is part of the long-term redevelopment project for the area after the council purchased the site in January.

Matthew Kershaw, local policy manager for Stockport at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re pleased that Stockport Council has secured funding to build a new car park next to the station.

“At the moment the area gives a poor first impression of the town, but a new car park is a good start to improving it. A new car park will also encourage more people to use Stockport Station.

“The rail link to London is a great asset for Stockport. From the station Grand Central is the gateway to the centre and its redevelopment is key to the town’s economic regeneration. It was a bold move from the Council to buy Grand Central and this is only the start of improvements to this key asset.”

The project aims to secure a high quality office quarter an attractive gateway to the town centre while it is anticipated to create around 700 new jobs and attract a further £100 million of private sector investment.

Councillor Dave Goddard, Leader of Stockport Council, said: “Since taking the decision to buy Grand Central, we have been working tirelessly to make sure we get the best deal for the borough. We’re determined to unlock the site’s fantastic potential as a premier office and commuter destination.

“Part of that plan was to improve and expand the parking offer. This announcement is great news and will give us a significant head start with the redevelopment plans. It’s a prime spot, right next to the station, which sees three trains every hour to London. We want to make it even easier for residents, visitors and commuters to take advantage of our great transport links.”

The grant was awarded as part of the station improvement fund from Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the Association of Train Operating Companies. Applications had to show the benefit to passengers and a financial return on the investment.

Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations at Network Rail, said: “This is a fantastic example of the rail industry, local authorities and other organisations working together to improve the passenger experience without increasing the burden on the taxpayer.”

Despite concerns over the addition of a multi-story car park to Stockport’s skyline, commuters and residents appear to be in full support of the redevelopment.

“Just look around you. It desperately needs improvements,” said Sally Davies, 48.

These sentiments were echoed by Jaz, a 21-year-old sales assistant. She said: “I used to come here (Grand Central) all the time when I was younger. It feels kind of dead now though.”

Looking around the arcade this gloomy afternoon you could see why they would think this. Several shops and bars were boarded up while the cinema and Pizza Hut – probably Grand Central’s two biggest outlets – were closed.

Commuters from outside of Stockport also think the development will be good for the area.

Jonathan Briers, 34, from London, said: “Yes, it definitely needs something doing. It’s not great stepping off the train to this.”

While a man running for a train yelled simply: “It’s about bloody time!”

The developer for the Grand Central project is due to be announced later today.

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