Protecting a community’s local shop or providing new affordable homes?
That’s the controversial decision Tameside councillors will have to make at a meeting of the planning committee this week.
They will be ruling on a proposal to knock down a row of local shops and apartments in Stalybridge and replacing them with 24, four, three and two-bedroom houses.
If approved it would see the loss of Waz’s convenience store and newsagents on Ambleside Parade which has been serving the area for more than 13 years.
The applicant, Jigsaw Homes – formerly New Charter – states that the proposed redevelopment of Rydal Walk and Ambleside Parade has the intent of creating a ‘community where people want to live’.
But planning officers are recommending the plans are rejected as they say it’s not been proven that the retail units are no longer viable.
Two petitions totalling 419 signatures have been lodged with the council against the loss of the convenience store, and Stalybridge North councillors Adrian Pearce, Jan Jackson and Sam Gosling are all objecting.
They say cuts to transport services are isolating the Ridge Hill community, and many rely on their local store.
“Regeneration involves more than housing and needs to be mindful of the needs of the wider community,” their objections state.
“The existing convenience store is well used by local residents and provides a vital facility.”
They add they hope to open a post office on the same site as the newsagents.
Planning officers say that if the shop was lost, residents on Ridge Hill would have to walk 800m to get to the next nearest store.
Outlining their reasons for recommending refusal, officers state: “The proposal would result in the loss of the designated shopping parade which is the only allocated retail site on the Ridge Hill estate.
“The applicant has not provided sufficient justification that the parade is no-longer needed / viable in the form of robust marketing information.
“Conversely the comments raised by the existing retail operator, local residents and members clearly demonstrates that the parade serves the day to needs of the local community.
“Whilst there are merits to the provision of modern affordable housing the overall regeneration case presented by the applicant is not compelling.”
Officers add there are also issues relating to housing supply, design, layout, security and access.
In a design and access statement on behalf of Jigsaw, John McCall architects pitch that the development would create a ‘high quality living environment.’
“The proposed development should actually benefit the site and surrounding area by enabling the site to engage with its immediate environment and integrate into the existing neighbourhood,” the submission states.
“In creating an inclusive and sustainable community capable of supporting local facilities our client believes that this development represents a significant step forward in ‘ensuring that everyone has the opportunity of living in a decent home which they can afford in a community where they want to live’.”
Demolition work has already begun on the maisonettes on Rydal Walk which was approved through an earlier application to the council.
A decision on the new development will be made by councillors at a meeting on Wednesday, June 19.
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