The historic White Lion in Stockport is set to be transformed into a mix of residential homes and leisure facilities.
The town’s oldest tavern is to be converted into mixed-use scheme by Laurus Homes in partnership with Stockport Council as part of the wider Underbanks regeneration scheme.
The White Lion in Stockport originates from the 15th century and has been a Grade II listed building since 1993.
Having been closed and abandoned for many years, the four-storey building – which is situated at the junction of Great Underbank and Lower Hillgate – was acquired by Stockport Council in late 2015 to safeguard its future and to bring it back into use.
Now, through a partnership between the Council and Laurus Homes, a division of Trafford Housing Trust, the building will be refurbished into high quality apartments above new ground floor restaurant premises.
Once completed the £2.4m scheme, which has a ground floor footprint of around 600 square metres and approximately 800 square metres of upper floor space, is set to feature seven one-bed, three two-bed and one two-bed duplex apartments.
The complex restoration and rebuilding will be undertaken by a multi-disciplinary project team appointed by Trafford Housing Trust. This will include builders Casey Construction, surveyors Anderton Gable, and architects Bowker Saddler.
Stockport Council’s £7m investment in Underbanks
The renovation of the White Lion, which was completely rebuilt in 1904 in a late medieval and Baroque fashion, is a key part of the Council’s £7 million investment in the Underbanks and Market Place which is underway, transforming this unique and important part of Stockport town centre.
The site, and Laurus Homes’ plans to rejuvenate it, were also recently featured on BBC Breakfast TV as an example of how town centres with empty units were being reinvigorated through residential conversions.
Paul Westhead from Laurus Homes said:
“Listed sites of great historic importance like the White Lion pub can be very challenging to convert successfully and many developers won’t undertake the work because of the potential financial risks.
“However, being part of a progressive housing association like Trafford Housing Trust, which is committed to regenerating neighbourhoods rather than simply selling houses for a profit, we are able to work in partnership with local authorities and take on sensitive projects like these.
“We can also see the massive potential offered by a district like the Underbanks. It’s very well located and is steeped in history, but has also faced commercial challenges meaning many buildings and shops have been vacated.
“We therefore look forward to working with Stockport Council to bring the White Lion, and possibly some other parts of the Underbanks, back to life with a mix of high quality residential and sustainable commercial solutions.”
A historic building where visitors fished for salmon!
The White Lion in Stockport was originally a coaching inn on the main route into and out of Stockport, situated close to the only crossing point of the Mersey at Lancashire Bridge, and could accommodate over 20 horses in its stables.
Due to its proximity to the Mersey, it is believed that visitors to the pub were permitted to fish for salmon at the bottom of the White Lion’s garden, and could use the Inn’s own pew in the parish church of St. Mary’s in the nearby Market Place.
It is also recorded that the pub Landlord kept a cannon ready to indicate the arrival of the mail coach from London, and the town’s news was read by the Town Crier in front of the Inn.
The pub was rebuilt several times in its long history, and was re-fronted in a mock Tudor black & white style, in 1823.
The last major remodelling taking place in 1904-1906, giving the building the distinctive features it still carries today.
Councillor Kate Butler, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration at Stockport Council said:
“The White Lion is an important building in the heart of Stockport linking Merseyway with the Underbanks and has so much untapped potential. The Council has wanted to see this potential realised for some time and for the building to be brought back to life. We’re delighted to be working with Laurus Homes to turn this vision into a reality.
“The new homes and restaurants at the White Lion are just part of the transformation taking place in Stockport’s Market Place and Underbank that will see the area once again become the place to visit, shop and live.”