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HUGE MOMENT: £60m plan to regenerate Victorian mill gets the go-ahead

HUGE MOMENT: £60m plan to regenerate Victorian mill gets the go-ahead

CGI showing proposed redevelopment of Weir Mill, Image: Capita and Centric

A developer has hailed the decision to approve the £60m regeneration of a derelict Victorian mill as a ‘huge moment for Stockport town centre’.

The proposals for Grade II-listed Weir Mill were approved by the council’s planning committee on Thursday night.

Capital and Centric’s ‘transformational’ scheme will see 253 new homes created at Weir Mill through a mixture of conversion and new-builds.

The existing 17th century mill buildings would house 87 of the new homes, with the two new builds providing the remaining 166.

While restoration of the mill has been widely welcomed, the inclusion of a 14-storey apartment block has proven controversial, as it will obscure views of the town’s landmark viaduct.

More than 4,000 people signed a ‘’don’t hide the viaduct’ petition while the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage both opposed the tower element of the plans.

Head of planning Emma Curle, told councillors the tower would cause harm to the Grade I listed viaduct, but this was ‘less than substantial’ and the wider scheme was not financially viable without the ‘eastern tower’.

She was satisfied its height had been ‘minimised as far as possible without rendering the scheme undeliverable’.

Committee chair Coun Andy Sorton noted there was a ‘trade-off’ between saving the mill and the  ‘visual impact’ on the viaduct, before the committee unanimously agreed to grant planning permission.

The decision has been welcomed by Capital and Centric, the ‘social impact developer’ behind the scheme.

courtyard

Proposed West Courtyard, Weir Mill, Image: Capital and Centric

Co-founder Adam Higgins said: “This is a huge moment for Stockport town centre. We’re floored with the feedback and support we’ve had for our vision for Weir Mill and can’t wait to get going.

“We’re going to create something very special here  – celebrating the rich industrial heritage of the mill with sensitive restoration and opening the site up with great community places to hangout with lush gardens and social spaces. We plan to pack the neighbourhood with as many of the best cultural and foodie experiences we can!

“The reality is that this stunning historic mill, parts of which date back as far as the late 1700s, were at risk of being lost forever.  It’s brilliant that, thanks to Stockport’s support, we can not only save Weir Mill, but make it one of the main storylines in Stockport’s next chapter.“

His views were echoed by Stockport council leader Elise Wilson, who said: “It is hugely rewarding to know this derelict landmark will now not only be saved but become a catalyst for wider investment and will energise this area of the town centre.”

weavers square

Weavers Square, CGI showing proposed redevelopment of Weir Mill, Image: Capita and Centric

During the meeting councillors expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of affordable housing in the scheme – albeit there is a ‘clawback’ condition that could result in a financial contribution towards homes elsewhere.

And there were also concerns about a lack of parking – particularly for disabled people – and the loss of the Chestergate building and weaving shed.

However, on balance, they were, persuaded it would ‘enhance and bring life’ to the town centre.

Coun Brian Bagnall said: “Overall, I think this is a transformational scheme, and I think we would probably all have liked to see it without the tower which is causing so much concern.

“However, I understand the reason it’s there and it’s bringing back historic buildings that currently are disappearing before our eyes because they are falling apart.

“It’s ambitious, it’s a quality scheme not just a quantity scheme. We have said on a number of occasions that whenever we are building a large development it has to be about quality not just quantity.”

He added that new public space looking out across the River Mersey and Weaver’s Square centrepiece would be ‘fantastic and really well-used’.

Capital and Centric expects to start work on the site early next years.

Weir Mill is the first scheme to be approved in the Town Centre West regeneration zone, which plans to create the ‘newest, coolest, and greenest urban neighbourhood in the city-region’.

Also known as the Mayoral Development Corporation, other projects include St Thomas Gardens and the Royal George Village.

Stockport council’s planning and highways committee met at the town hall on Thursday night (September 30).

 

Words: Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter


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