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EXCLUSIVE: 'Altrincham Could Be Like Kensington'

New group aims to revive Trafford ghost town

Written by . Published on October 5th 2011.


EXCLUSIVE: 'Altrincham Could Be Like Kensington'

A NEW group of local businesses and residents want to transform Altrincham into the ‘Kensington of the North’ and reverse the town’s recent decline.

Altrincham Forward launched last week as a partnership of private sector firms including Bruntwood and Ask Developments, as well as the local council and residents’ groups.

 “A hundred yards from the centre of town, there is a house for sale for £1.4m. Where else is like that in Greater Manchester?”

Matt Colledge, leader of Trafford Council and chairman of the new group, told Confidential the town could be a hotbed for "interesting" food and drink operators and independent retailers.

“I think Altrincham has been polarised between Manchester city centre and the Trafford Centre and the council perhaps hasn’t looked at the town in a cohesive way,” he said. “We have to put our hands up for that.

"Altrincham’s demographic should make it one of the busiest town centres in the country. It’s in a ludicrous position.

“Our competition, or where we should be benchmarking ourselves against, are places like Kensington in London. Altrincham should be in the same bracket as those higher end London towns.

 “A hundred yards from the centre of town, there is a house for sale for £1.4m. Where else is like that in Greater Manchester?”

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Colledge said the idea for Altrincham Forward had its genesis when he became council leader two years ago, after a spate of negative stories about the town appeared in the national press.

The group will be producing a strategy document in the next twelve months "to let people know Altrincham is open for business" although Colledge said any investment would have to come from the private sector.

 “We need to reignite interest in the town with businesses, retailers and property owners,” he said. “Let’s face facts; large public sector-funded projects are over. Whatever happens will have to be commercially led.

“So far we’ve capitalised on people’s huge experience and knowledge, but we wouldn’t rule out discussions with the private sector partners if they are looking to invest cash.”

Colledge said the town’s redevelopment would more than likely be retail led, although he did not want to see a "generic high street".

“We want room for small to medium independent traders that will bring something more interesting,” he said.

“But there are very few urban market towns in Cheshire and I think we have a real opportunity. There are three Belgian bars in the town centre; that shows there is room for something different and upmarket. The Trafford Centre can’t provide that.

“It’s vital we have a good quality residential offering. We also have plenty of office space, but it’s probably not the right quality."

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In time, Colledge sees Altrincham Forward morphing into an organisation that can stand on its own two feet and attract funding itself.

“Large council resources are being put into local schemes and spatial strategies and we would look to move that away from the council to a standalone body,” he said.

“In terms of the board, from the initial set up to its later development, it could well change. There are no hard and fast rules or plans at this stage. There’s a way to go before we get there.

“The first thing we have to do is score some quick wins in areas like public realm, to show people we mean business.

“We know we have to be prepared to do deals to bring investment in but we need to start making more noise and have conversations with people. That probably hasn’t been done for 20 years.”

Altrincham Forward board members:

Matt Colledge, Leader of Trafford Council, Chairman of Altrincham Forward

Jackie Campbell, President, Altrincham and Sale Chamber of Commerce

Nick Banks - Chairman of Altrincham Traders and Residents Association

Mark Rubin - Chairman of Altrincham Town Centre Partnership

John Smith - President, Altrincham Town Centre Partnership

Sue Nichols, Altrincham and Bowdon Civic Society

Ken Knott - ASK Developments and GM Business Leadership Council

David Moore - Partner, Tushingham Moore

Mike Shields - Independent Consultant

Chris Oglesby - Chief Executive, Bruntwood

Richard Peel - Director, Merepark

Steve Nicol - Director, Regeneris

Nigel McGurk - Erimax Ltd

Felicity Goodey - Regeneration and Marketing

Theresa Grant - Acting Chief Executive, Trafford Council

Nick Gerrard, Corporate Director for Economic Growth and Prosperity, Trafford Council

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

IzzyOctober 5th 2011.

Last time I drove through Altrincham, I hadn't done so for a long time, I was stunned. Not just one or two boarded-up shops but row upon row. It has suffered because of the Trafford Centre but the decline has been more recent - the Trafford Centre has been open for around 15 years now - it must also be down the economic crisis of the last two or three years. Trafford Council should have acted a long time ago, it's likely too late to bring the centre back to life. If they want independents to fill the empty shops, make sure the rent conditions suit the traders. As for three 'Belgian' bars; I see that as a negative rather than a positive - another Council that is far too eager to dish out licences and sod the consequences - Altrincham is the last place I'd go for a night out. All of the above could easily apply to several North West towns and suburbs; Warrington, in particular, 'Two-Bob Tuesday', springs to mind

1 Response: Reply To This...
Richard HJOctober 6th 2011.

I imagine the Trafford Centre has slowly helped fuel the decline of Altrincham town centre. But there is money around that part of the city and a viable alternative to the McHigh Street shops of TC would I imagine help regenerate the area. Shop local folks.

it's the city, duffusOctober 5th 2011.

get brewdog in? or trof...

the Whalley RangerOctober 5th 2011.

Disagree Simon - we do not need to support out-of-town living, the aspirational Cheshire life will take care of itself. Residents there usually have the choice of good public and private transport and can make an informed and asset-backed decision on what they want.

Look at the 'first ring' around Manchester city centre instead - Gorton, Rusholme, Whalley Range, certain parts of Salford, Cheetham Hill et al.

Strengthen these areas for a cohesive urban landscape.

A quick read?

www.thehindu.com/…/article1585506.ece…

Mr T.October 5th 2011.

Live in Altrincham, work in Manchester? Your a FOOL!

Live in Altrincham, shop in Trafford? You're a FOOL!

Quit yo jibber-jabber! You ain't hurt, yo pathetic...

AnonymousOctober 5th 2011.

That Felicity Goodey turns up everywhere doesn't she?

Simon SmithOctober 5th 2011.

As an Altrincham resident I can't understand what all the fuss is about. Despite the empty shops I can get very nearly everything I want to buy in the town, and the internet does the rest.

Now I no longer work in the city centre I can go for months at a time without going there, and I've never set foot in the Trafford centre.

With the retail park, the Waitrose area and the big Tesco, all which have arrived in the last ten years or so, I wouldn't mind betting that there is more shopping space in Altrincham than there has been for a long time. The ghost town tag is ludicrous.

These shops, and the town's pubs and restaurants might not be what people with Kensington style incomes might want but they are OK for me and most of Altrincham's residents.

Besides, there's always Hale town centre for the well-heeled, and that's only a stone's throw away.

AltrinchamgirlOctober 5th 2011.

I vote for a good old-fashioned chippy for Altrincham high street - then Whalley Ranger can purchase a bag of chips to balance the other shoulder..........

1 Response: Reply To This...
the Whalley RangerOctober 5th 2011.

yep, wouldn't mind one of your Belgian bars here

Kevin QOctober 5th 2011.

More butchers, bakers and candlestick makers

1 Response: Reply To This...
University of ChorltonianOctober 5th 2011.

What about a Barbakan, fishmongers selling take-away sushi or a organic food store?

Surely it can't be that difficult - it works in areas with less disposable income...

More Belgian barsOctober 5th 2011.

Kyrofelonoshophobia

Even more Belgian barsOctober 5th 2011.

More Belgian bars is right. Forget Kensington, let's call the place Bruges

Simon SmithOctober 5th 2011.

I was sad when Altrincham's Bargain Booze shut to be replaced with a shop selling wardrobes and beds.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Recurrence BuddhaOctober 6th 2011.

How lovely! Over here the wardrobe and beds store closed and was replaced with.....

...a pseudo Italian!

AnonymousOctober 6th 2011.

This article represents excititement as a newly-settled Altrincham resident. Does anyone have an update on the 'Alt-air' project next to the Ice-Rink. Some demolition has been undertaken but work seems to have come to a stand still????

Ken SingletonOctober 6th 2011.

Just like Kensington in Liverpool, more like.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Richard HJOctober 6th 2011.

damn, you just beat me to that punchline :-)

Catherine HeatonOctober 6th 2011.

20 years ago when I was finishing school Altrincham was a vibrant town centre shopping hub and with a good range of options. My Travel's (formerly Air Tours) mis-matched take over and eventual shut down of the gem and Altrincham based Cresta Holidays which in its day, around 10 years ago employed around 600 money spending lunch time and after work shoppers pretty much dunked the area under water for the immediate future. Sad times and am sure Alty will re-discover its niche. It has after all, good transport options, a great location, nearby country houses, the Bollin for walking, Hale nightlife, great schools and good facilities- seems to be a no brainer to me - however I believe it does need a bit more heart and soul and a friendly touch to attract more spending visitors back into the area.

StuartOctober 7th 2011.

When the Trafford Centre opened with its free parking Altrincham stated charging for its previously free car parks. Bad move?

Recurrence BuddhaOctober 7th 2011.

History repeats itself

Sharron MurrayOctober 7th 2011.

I think if it went down the same route as Burton road in W.Didsbury, it will offer something a little different... Bring on the independent retailers.... Drop the rent & Business rates, so the small inderpendent shops can and WILL survive.... Start small aim big...

AnonymousOctober 11th 2011.

agree with Sharron but lets hope that down to earth vibe can be retained too i heard even the giant Tesco was suffering (ha!)? I was there the other week and not a quaint traditional english tea shop in sight though i sadly ended up in a type of internet cafe/kebab shop having an english breakfast and it felt wrong and out of place there, that aside, i think people are also sick of the pretentiousness of the Cheshire set brigade that fleet in and out of Alty the nouveau riche types who like to lord it over the more down to earth types its an interesting mix of folk thats for sure.....lets hope it doesnt disappear up its own a*** and why do the same contractors keep getting work? Bruntwood and Ask are massive why not let other developers get in on the action.....a case of whos friends with who perhaps? Manchester is full of their stuff.....nothing special either. Houses surrounding are old and beautiful must agree there if only......

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