Saturday, June 01, 2013

Asda and the College scrap their plans - so what now?

It was announced this week that Asda and Cheadle and Marple College have scrapped their plans to build a supermarket on Hibbert Lane. I welcome this news as it was a bad scheme, badly thought through, poorly located and the wrong solution to local challenges.

However, it throws into the mix the possibilities of what should happen now. I liked the conciliatory line in the statement about consulting with the community about the best use for the site, but ultimately it is a matter for the governors of the college to fulfill their duties to provide education in a sustainable way and be responsible for their estates, here's the statement:
"Following the refusal of planning permission at the planning and highways committee, both the College and Asda have been carefully considering their position and contractual obligations.  Both parties have been in discussions with each other and their respective Boards about their appetite to proceed and the prospect of an appeal.  Both parties have indicated a preference to withdraw from the contract by mutual consent and have instructed solicitors to draft  an agreement in this respect.

"The College has been considering a number of options of how to proceed and would very much like to work with the Marple Community to explore a way forward.  It is our intent to collaborate and consult with key stakeholders in this respect." 
So here are a few new challenges for the community leader who articulated so powerfully what needs to be done next.

The College. There is no doubt that the College needs to do something new, and it needs to get a move on. Other colleges and schools are so much better equipped. Resources are tight, but the need to have a new campus, possibly on Buxton Lane will have to be costed within what is possible from developing Hibbert Lane for housing.

Chadwick Street Site. This development will also encourage Kirkland to proceed with plans for a town centre store. I've pondered before whether Marple is an Aldi or a Waitrose kind of place. I'm pretty certain the store was designed with Waitrose in mind, it is now a commercial decision as to whether they want to proceed.

Traffic. Something needs to be done about the roads round here. They just don't function properly. The traffic management is all wrong. I like what's been done in Poynton, but there are too many complicated one way routes at the moment and unflowing movements for it to flow round here.

Independent retailers. Free markets throw up the possibility of risk that a business won't work. I don't necessarily just shop at local independents just because they are independent. I welcome well run branded multiple retailers: I go to Greenhalgh's because I like their Broccoli soup, I get repairs done at Zipyard because they are friendly and cheap. This is not the devil at work. Everywhere has empty shops too, good ideas will come to the fore. But it's important that a college is supported in Marple, or many of these butty bars and pie shops will go out of business. 

Sports facilities. The football pitches and sports grounds round here are woeful. Marple Hall School astroturf is a misnomer, it's concrete with a thinning carpet. The swimming pool and gym are pretty ropey too. So, in working out what next for different land sites, surely this should be factored in. The set  in Woodley is good, but it's 4 miles away, and it's expensive. It should be factored in. And I don't accept that putting up full size posts on an unplayable pitch on Hawk Green is a meaningful contribution to local sports.

The media. How rubbish is it that the local weekly paper is so stuck in the cycle of weekly news there is no news outlet for news of this importance for Stockport and for Marple? Even the press statement seems to have been sent to the local messageboard.

I don't like saying NO to progress, so I look forward to the day when I can have a YES poster in my window for something positive and bold in Marple.

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