The first phase of public consultation on plans to deliver a ‘Learning and Discovery’ store, provisionally dubbed Stockroom, in the Merseyway shopping precinct have seen proposals secure strong public backing as a means to revitalise the town centre.
Over 22 uses for Stockroom that were proposed by Stockport Council in the consultation, all but three were thought to be beneficial for the town by over 50% of respondents, with the least popular still gaining support from a third of respondents. The plans have drawn inspiration from highly successful schemes elsewhere that have put learning, cultural and community services in the heart of the high street.
Among the most popular proposals for Stockroom included:
- chance to enrol in classes or support groups
- comfy seating in a modern café environment
- access to computers and WiFi
- accessible toilets and mobility scooter hire
- help and advice services, including managing finances and family health and wellbeing
- music, theatre, poetry, story-telling etc
- flexible space to connect with others in the community
- tourist information for Stockport
- information on Stockport’s heritage and history
- Sensory room for families
Benefits cited by respondents to the consultation were also found to be in line with the council’s aims for the Learning and Discovery Store, with the repurposing of empty retail space and making community facilities more accessible. Stockroom will be funded following a successful bid for £14.5 million from the government’s Future High Streets Fund that is specifically earmarked for projects that will help regenerate and revitalise the UK’s high streets and town centres.
The consultation also showed support for the prospect of moving library services in the town centre from Central Library to Stockroom. However, concern over the future of Central Library was also given as the main disadvantage or opposition to plans for Learning and Discovery Store.
While the council has previously committed to retaining public access to the historic town centre library building, a consultation on the future of the library services and the building will now be run as a result of the Stockroom survey.
The public consultation on Stockroom received 1299 responses, with data analysed by Qa Research on behalf of Stockport Council. The full report on the results of the survey is available online here.