Council launches plans for £14.5m ‘Learning and Discovery’ store to increase town centre footfall and inspire love of learning in children and adults

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Council launches plans for £14.5m ‘Learning and Discovery’ store to increase town centre footfall and inspire love of learning in children and adults

As town centres across the UK struggle to recover from the decline in traditional retailing and the impact of Covid-19, Stockport is pioneering an innovative plan to increase footfall and inspire a love of learning in children and adults.

Stockroom is the working title for a new, universal, ‘Learning and Discovery Store’ which will repurpose large areas of empty retail space in the Merseyway Shopping Centre around Adlington Walk into a mixed-use learning, culture and events space.

Stockroom will be an inclusive and accessible space which will support the people of Stockport to learn new skills, practice arts and crafts, enjoy live music and performances and benefit from cutting-edge learning and IT facilities.

It will be larger than a football field and be a destination which is packed with activities to attract people of all ages and tastes to Stockport town centre as a place to visit and spend time with friends and family.

The Council has been busy drawing inspiration from highly successful schemes elsewhere including the Idea Store in London, Storyhouse in Chester and the Lightbox in Barnsley where learning, cultural and community services have been put right in the heart of the high street.

Storyhouse has been a huge success attracting more than one million visitors a year to a multi-use facility in the city centre, becoming home to 150 community groups and driving a significant increase in reading with loans of children books increasing by more than 50%.

After creating new mixed-use town centre libraries and cultural hubs visitor figures at Tower Hamlets Idea Stores quadrupled from 550,000 to more than 2 million.

As well as increasing footfall the Council wants Stockroom to inspire a love of learning in children and young people and help the borough to address the underperformance of educational attainment, particularly at ‘A’ Level and among children in disadvantaged areas or with special educational needs or disabilities.

Stockport has already won Government funding for Stockroom after the council was successful in securing £14.5m from the Government ‘Future High Streets Fund’ which aims to renew and reshape high streets up and down the country.

Stockroom is part of the Council’s ‘Whole Town Plan’ which has been a catalyst for the centre of Stockport to undergo a radical and exciting £1billion programme of investment.

The Council is exploring a wide range of uses for Stockroom from culture, leisure and hospitality to spaces for businesses, community groups, and health services.

It also has the potential to be used for celebrations such as weddings and to provide a single doorway for council services such as registering a birth or other life events and offer ‘best in class’ new toilets and enhanced provision for people with a disability, including a ‘Changing Places’ facility.

The council is keen for the people of Stockport to shape the future of Stockroom by telling the Council what activities and services they most want to bring to the town centre.

The initial engagement with residents on the Stockroom proposals will run from Monday 5th July until 1st August.

Cllr David Sedgwick, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus and Engagement at Stockport Council, said:
“We are very proud to have secured £14.5m of Government funding to deliver a new learning and discovery centre which we are confident will bring hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to Stockport town centre and transform a key town centre location into a valuable mixed-purpose facility for children and young people of all ages.

“We are now embarking on an extensive engagement exercise in July where we want our residents to help shape what goes into Stockroom.

“I would encourage everyone to take part and help us create something special in Stockport.”

If you would like to be involved in shaping Stockroom, please get in touch. There are many different ways to get involved.

A survey will go live on https://stockroomstockport.uk.engagementhq.com on Monday 5th July which will gauge residents’ views on initial plans and encourage additional suggestions for potential usages.

For more information visit https://stockroomstockport.uk.engagementhq.com or pick up a leaflet from your nearest council operated location or within Merseyway.
If there is support to create a 21st Century library offer within Stockroom, this may result in library services being relocated from the existing Central Library Building on the A6.

However, a formal consultation on the relocation of library services from the existing Central Library building would be held before any decision was made.
This would include consulting people about potential alternative uses for the current Central Library building.

No decision about the future of the Central Library building or the service it provides would be made without full consultation with the people of Stockport, including those people who currently use the library.

There may also be support for relocating other Council services such as birth and marriage registration to Stockroom and it should also be noted that this may also mean they might be moved from their current location to Stockroom.