A ‘vital’ parade of shops in Stalybridge are to be kept under regeneration plans for affordable housing which have been given the green light by councillors.
More than 400 people had signed a petition against previous proposals to knock down the shops on Ambleside Parade, and replace them with houses.
Ward councillors who opposed the original plans said the loss of the shops – including Waz’s convenience store and the Big Local Hub – would be ‘another crucial blow to local people’.
And in line with officers’ recommendations, members of Tameside’s planning committee agreed to reject the application from Jigsaw Homes – formerly New Charter – at a meeting in June 2019.
Now the committee has approved new plans by Jigsaw to redevelop the area of the Ridge Hill estate, which would see the much-loved shopping arcade retained.
It will see 16, two, three and four-bedroom semi-detached affordable houses built in the place of three demolished blocks of maisonettes on Rydal Walk.
The existing shopping parade on Ambleside Parade will be kept, and the maisonettes above will be refurbished with ‘environmental improvements’ and new landscaping.
Principal planner Steve Kirkham said the new build dwellings would provide 16 ‘family orientated’ homes and it would be a ‘comprehensive’ redevelopment of the site.
“The design of the dwellings would assume a refreshing modern appearance. The refurbishment of the retail block would tie both aspects of the development together,” he added.
“There are considerable merits to the proposals which represent a welcome development opportunity.
“The retention of the Ambleside shopping parade and the refurbishment of its upper floor accommodation secure a vital facility on the Ridge Hill estate and this will ensure that for local communities their convenience needs will continue to be met.”
He added that the overall reduction in homes on the site was ‘unfortunate’ however added this must be weighed against ‘wider community benefits’.
These include addressing a ‘growing demand’ for affordable family housing in the area.
And the retention of the retail parade would mean that the ‘day to day needs of the local community would not be prejudiced’.
Currently the shopping parade is only around 50 per cent occupied but it is hoped the refurbishment would increase this.
Agent David Smith, speaking on behalf of the applicant Jigsaw, said: “We have worked with the local community, members, shopkeepers and Tameside officers and revised our proposals accordingly to retain the shopping parade and to refurbish the existing accommodation above which is supported by the local community.
“Our proposal would provide high-quality residential development.
“We believe our proposal is a welcome addition to improving housing choice.”
Councillor Jack Naylor told the meeting it was a ‘big well done’ to officers, councillors and the community for their efforts to improve the application from its 2019 iteration.
“It’s great to see the redevelopment of the retail parade and hopefully with these improvements it will increase the shop occupancy from 50pc which will further enhance that valuable local amenity moving forward,” he said.
“It’s just a real credit that demonstrates how working together constructively can really improve the community.”
Coun Sam Gosling, who represents Stalybridge North added: “It is a real testament this to how they actually listened to the residents. That community couldn’t afford to lose those shops.”
Councillors voted to approve the plans unanimously.