Stockport Viaduct is a Grade II* listed structure and an iconic part of the town’s built heritage. It is incorporated into the branding of many local organisations. Capital and Centric has applied for planning permission for a development on either side of the viaduct which includes a tower between the town centre and the viaduct, and which will have a damaging impact on its prominence in our community and spoil the enjoyment for all those who live, work and visit our town.
I want to set out my position on the current proposal in response to all the constituents who have contacted me about it. I’m grateful that so many have taken the time to get in touch.
A petition opposing the tower has more than three thousand signatures to date https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/don-t-hide-our-viaduct
Significantly, the Victorian Society has now objected to the scheme. I am grateful for the time that Stockport Heritage Trust took to explain its reasons for opposing the current proposal. Its biggest concern is that a 14-storey tower will ruin the view of the viaduct, while Historic England says the development would be a ‘considerable visual intrusion’.
I welcome plans to make the river accessible and it is important to see historic buildings brought back into use and protected. When I met with Capital and Centric I saw exciting indoor spaces and an attractive ‘public realm’. I recognise that public aspects of schemes like this have to be funded from the money generated through ‘enabling’ residential development.
But there are seven thousand households on Stockport’s housing waiting list. The crisis is not simply about the number of homes. It is also about improving the alternatives for the people who live here already. This development can – and should – make an important contribution if commercial considerations are balanced with a real commitment to improving the stock of social housing. My priority remains good quality and affordable housing for everyone who lives in Stockport.
A commercially viable development which preserves the views of the viaduct and provides an inclusive mix of housing must be our goal. Stockport Council and the Mayoral Development Corporation should consider making more adjoining land available. The Victorian Society points out that ‘there is plenty of space in the areas proposed for redevelopment immediately to the south and west of the site to provide the extra units that the tower would offer.’
I am not against the whole development, but a balance must be struck. We do not need the tower to enable high quality development in Stockport town centre. We need a rethink that protects the view of the viaduct for future generations.
I look forward to seeing such a vision put forward for the people of Stockport.