The Greater Manchester town named among best to buy a first home where locals could be priced out

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The centre of Stockport is currently undergoing major changes to build more apartments, transport infrastructure, and leisure space.

Fears have been raised that Stockport town centre could turn into “another Ancoats” with residents being priced out if more new homes are not built across the wider borough.

Stockport Labour group and the Edgeley Community Association have said the Lib Dem-run council’s target to build 4,000 new homes in the next 10 years on brownfield locations is over reliant on putting up high rise apartment blocks, and risks making the town unaffordable for local people due to high demand.

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More than 6,000 people are registered on the Stockport Homes website for properties, with each advert receiving around 300 applications. Alongside the high demand for living space, Stockport was recently chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the best places to buy a first home in the UK due to its proximity to Manchester city centre and a recent influx of independent bars and restaurants.

Construction of the new rooftop park in Stockport. Construction of the new rooftop park in Stockport.
Construction of the new rooftop park in Stockport.

The centre of Stockport is currently undergoing major changes to build more apartments, transport infrastructure, and leisure space in the centre and encourage more people to live and work in the town. This is being led by the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC), which was set up in 2019 and has representation from the main political parties in Stockport.

However, the Lib Dems have so far delayed consulting on creating a local housing plan, claiming that there needs to be more clarity on the matter from the Government.

Labour’s MP for Stockport, Navendu Mishra, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that he questions whether the Lib Dems have a fair housing process which includes providing good public services.

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He said: “Stockport is a really good place to live, we have good housing stock and, we are very well connected, but we have issues with demand and supply. I am not against 4000 new homes being built but it needs to be a fair process. People in central Stockport are expected to see a massive increase in housing but is the process fair and are the public services going to be matched up? I’m not sure.”

Coun David Meller, who took charge of the Stockport Labour group in May 2023 when he replaced former leader Elise Wilson, accused the Lib Dems of creating an “untenable” situation in Stockport by not having a local plan in place.

He told the LDRS: “As far as housing is concerned the Lib Dems are in disarray. We need to be building more homes and we need to start addressing this issue of new homes not being in ‘my backyard’ [in green belt areas]. The situation we have got now is untenable, we need a local plan across the borough which could involve some green belt. Some of the land [not being developed] is green belt in name only, but in reality it is just not the case.”

In Edgeley, a suburb in the centre of the borough which was formerly an industrial hub, there are worries that building a large number of new homes in the town centre without touching the green belt could divide communities.

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Coun Matt Wynne, leader of the Edgeley Community Association, said: “We do not want the whole of the borough’s housing delivery target to be in the centre of Stockport. This is an abdication of responsibility of the borough as a whole.

“If the new houses are not planned correctly then there is a danger that Edgeley could become another Ancoats. Communities need to be involved in housing development, if not you get two different communities living next to each other. Part of that is delivering social housing and council housing. Not everyone wants to live in high rise flats, they want to live in two-up-two-down houses with a garden but there is just not the space for that in this neighbourhood.”

At the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth this week, members of the party rebelled against plans to scrap national housebuilding targets. The move reflected a growing frustration among some in the UK that the lack of new homes is preventing them from ever getting on the housing ladder.

However, Coun Mark Roberts, Lib Dem deputy leader of Stockport Council, stressed that his party is not overdeveloping the town centre with its plans, and highlighted that Stockport residents want to see a brownfield-first approach to new housing.

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He said: “There is no plan by the Liberal Democrat administration to over-develop the town centre. The current redevelopment schemes in Town Centre West are part of the Mayoral Development Corporation, which had strong all-party support. It would be a sad day for Stockport if the collective ambition for regenerating our town were abandoned, particularly by the Labour group.

“Like many other local authorities across the country, we have been forced to pause progress of our Local Plan because of months of mixed messages from the current, chaotic, Conservative government which were then followed by a sudden announcement in December that the current planning regime is to be completely overhauled.

“When government issue the revised National Planning Policy Framework and make clear the balance they expect between delivering housing targets and protecting green belt, we will be able to go ahead with consultation on a new Local Plan.”

He added: “Residents and the Liberal Democrat administration want to see a brownfield first approach to housebuilding, building the right homes in the right places. Given the comments by the opposition it begs the question why Labour didn’t do more for housebuilding, especially social house building when they were in administration.

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“Labour seems intent on concreting over the green lung that makes Stockport one of the best places to live and residents will rightly be outraged if we let Labour hand over our countryside to large scale developers. Residents in parts of the borough near to green belt will undoubtedly be very worried about the housebuilding plans of any future Labour administration.”

Next year local elections are due to take place in Stockport with housing likely top of the agenda for many residents. The council is currently run by a Lib Dem minority administration, with Labour five seats behind.

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