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Big Name, Big Ask, Can Stockport Do It?

Stockport West, with the railway viaduct separating residential and commercial areas.

Lord Kerslake, a former head of the UK civil service, has been appointed as the new chair of Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation.

The corporation, the first of its kind in the UK, will lead the delivery of up to 3,500 new homes, and 1M SF of new commercial space.

The appointment comes as Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham requested up to £1B from the government to connect Stockport to the region’s Metrolink tram network. 

If funding was available — and the government has hinted that it might be forthcoming in next month’s budget — work on the new line could begin as soon as 2025.

The government is already backing the £120M redevelopment of Stockport Interchange, which is planned to include a Metrolink tram stop.

The Stockport MDC has statutory powers to acquire and develop land as well as deliver infrastructure. It has its own compulsory purchase powers but does not have planning powers, which remain with Stockport Council. 

Burnham said that Lord Kerslake’s experience at the heart of the government, combined with his understanding of how development corporations can work effectively in a regional political context, will be invaluable.

The aim is to turn Stockport West into in Greater Manchester’s newest, coolest, greenest urban neighbourhood. 

The new east-west metro tram line, if approved, will extend from East Didsbury into Stockport town centre. The town is already well provided with north-south commuter rail services into Manchester city centre.

During the December 2019 general election campaign ministers committed to bringing Metrolink to Stockport. Burnham reiterated that government must assist both with the powers and funding required.

“The fact that a former head of the UK civil service has agreed to chair the Stockport MDC is a sure sign of the confidence in Stockport Council’s vision for the town," Burnham said. "Lord Kerslake’s appointment is a major coup and we hope he will now help us develop a credible plan to bring Metrolink to the new interchange.” 

Transport for Greater Manchester and Stockport Council will now accelerate work on the business case needed to extend the tram line.