Simpson replaced Pam Smith as general manager. Credit: PNW
Council Leader Elise Wilson and newly installed Chief Executive Caroline Simpson spoke with Location North West to maintain the momentum and put people at the heart of the revitalization of the borough.
Stockport already has a pipeline of potentially transformative projects underway, but the borough isn’t going to rest on its laurels.
“I think the next 12 months are going to blow your mind,” Wilson said.
“I’m really clear that what I’m doing for Stockport is driving change, doing things and making things happen that will benefit the people of Stockport. Nothing will stop me from doing it.
Wilson will be aided in her quest by Simpson, who replaced Pam Smith as general manager earlier this year.
Smith left to join Newcastle City Council after a four-and-a-half-year stint that saw Stockport become one of Greater Manchester’s most exciting development hotspots.
Projects that have progressed during his tenure include offices at Stockport Exchange, the residential redevelopment of Weir Mill and the £120 million refurbishment of Stockport bus station, among many others. Much of the city’s regeneration has been led by the Mayoral Development Corporation, established under Smith’s watch in 2019.
Today, the new CEO is keen to pick up where her predecessor left off.
“If there’s one thing we need to do in Stockport, it’s keep the momentum going,” said Caroline Simpson. “We cannot sit and think about the next three years. We have big ambitions at Stockport, we have resilience and we really have the ability to keep going.
Learn more about Stockport’s development pipeline
Simpson continued, “We have already launched the next pipeline and the Mayoral Development Corporation is set to launch a major next phase over the next few months.”
As work on this closely watched batch of projects continues behind the scenes, Simpson insists the board will continue to take a holistic approach to development.
“We can’t just focus on housing, we can’t just focus on commercial space, we can’t just focus on healthcare.
“You have to think about it in the context of the place and move on all fronts all the time. It’s really difficult, but it’s the only way to advance a place.
One scheme with the potential to transform Stockport is the Hazel project, a £500million hospital development plan in the city centre.
“This is a project that’s not just about health, it’s about taking it to the next level,” Simpson said.
“It’s about the regeneration of cities and a new model of health care.”
The proposal, which is currently being considered by the government, could provide the blueprint for similar projects in the future if Whitehall chooses to back it, according to Wilson.
“At the end of the day, the government wants to see something happen and then be able to say ‘here’s the pilot’.
“[The government should] listen to Stockport as it presents these ideas and the holistic approach. You listen to Stockport because we deliver.
While it’s exciting to see new developments springing up in the borough, the most important part of Stockport’s regeneration strategy is the people, says Simpson.
“You have to have these flagship projects because it gives people confidence, but at the same time, you don’t lose sight of [the fact that] it’s all about people and our communities.
Residents of Stockport live in one of the region’s most politically turbulent boroughs, which will inevitably lead some to argue that the Labor-led council has not given them enough attention to recent issues. Especially in terms of heritage.
There was strong opposition to Capital & Centric’s Weir Mill development due to concerns about the impact it would have on the town’s famous viaduct. And the majority of those asked about the plan to move the city’s library services from its heritage home on Wellington Road to former retail units in Merseyway opposed it.
Learn about the Stockport Central Library saga
Wilson maintains that the decision to move forward with the library move was the right one for the residents and defended his heritage record.
“Under my watch we saved St Thomas workhouse, we saved Weir Mill and spent £8million on the Underbanks,” she said.
Having won the Battle of the Libraries against vocal opposition, Wilson is determined to look to the future. She is determined in her quest for a better future for Stockport
“Stockport is a place so dear to my heart. I love this place and I think it’s going to be even better. I don’t see anything against it. »
This level of passion from a leader is empowering for residents, but could easily be intimidating for Simpson. There will no doubt be occasions when she has to reign over Wilson, but the new GM is ready for the various battles that await her on the road to recreating Stockport.
“Every day brings trouble, doesn’t it? But every day we find our way through these issues and get things done.