Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Market Place and Underbanks Pedestrianisation scheme

A project to pedestrianise the Market Place and Underbanks will on June 7

Stockport Council will be closing Churchgate permanently from Tuesday, June 7 as part of its plans to pedestrianise the Market Place and Underbanks.

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are designed to answer any queries that residents or businesses may have about the scheme.

To speak to the project team, email marketsunderbanksaccessplan@stockport.gov.uk

What is the reason for the closure?

Stockport Council is introducing a new pedestrianisation scheme for the Market Place and Underbanks that will improve the visitor experience for residents and businesses as part of a multi-million-pound regeneration of the town centre.

The changes build on those currently underway, which are seeing greater numbers of residents and businesses in the Market and Underbanks, to enhance safety and provide an improved environment for those walking, cycling and wanting to spend more time in the area.

This is balanced with still accommodating motor vehicle access for servicing, deliveries and mobility impaired people. As well as extending the duration of the restrictions to motor vehicular access in the Market and Underbanks area, the scheme also addresses the current road safety issue of vehicles contravening existing Traffic Regulation Orders and accessing the area at times when vehicular access is already prohibited.

The closure times mirror as far as possible those already in place at Redrock and on Princes Street to create a consistent approach to vehicular access across the town centre. The scheme will be monitored and should any issues be identified, changes will be considered.

How is access to/through the area being maintained (24/7)?

Motor vehicle access is being maintained on a 24/7 basis to/from Millgate / Shawcross Fold / ASDA Car Park via Corporation Street / Newbridge Lane, and to/from Churchgate Car Park / Harvey Street via Wellington Street / Waterloo Road / Spring Gardens. Churchgate/Millgate will be closed to through traffic at Market Place with cycle, pedestrian and emergency access maintained.

St Mary’s Way has recently been subject to significant capacity improvements, including between Newbridge Lane and Spring Gardens, with the intention of taking through motor vehicle traffic away from town centre routes. The closure of Churchgate / Millgate is facilitated by these prior works and a continuation of this strategy.

New automatic rise/fall bollards will limit access to the Market area between 10.30am and midnight Monday to Sunday. On Market days, Friday and Saturday, the restrictions will begin at 7am.

The full-time closure of the Market Place in front of the Produce Hall will remain in place. The scheme will also see the closure of Bridge Street, Great Underbank and part of Little Underbank extended, with the new closure from 10.30am to midnight Monday to Sunday.

Again cycle, pedestrian and emergency access will be maintained at all times. Little Underbank from east of Royal Oak Yard and the existing automatic bollards outside the Brewery will remain closed from 10.30am to 4.00pm. In addition, Mealhouse Brow and St Petersgate bridge will be permanently closed to through traffic.

What about access for the elderly/disabled/limited mobility (including by taxi)?

The scheme is intended to create a safer and more attractive environment. They have been developed in liaison with representatives of Stockport Transport and Access Forum, Disability Stockport, the RNIB and ShopMobility.

The council has previously explored the feasibility of introducing a pedestrian crossing on Churchgate to provide an improved link between St Mary’s Church / Churchgate Car Park and the Market Place.

However, due to the lack of visibility / bend in the road, it was not feasible to provide a crossing. This scheme introduces a closure to through motor vehicles to create a traffic-free link between the two. It is recognised that there are various demands for access to the Market Place area, including the ability to drop-off/pick-up and/or park close to the Market.

The proposals were amended following the consultation to provide additional opportunity to do so. Specifically, drop-off/pick-ups can take place at any time on Churchgate / Millgate at Market Place or St Petersgate adjacent to the bridge, and on-street parking is maintained on Millgate (as well as within Churchgate Car Park). Benches are to be introduced to provide opportunities for rest.

The appearance and positioning of any street furniture will be designed such that it meets the needs of people with disabilities.

Who was consulted about this/how was this decided?

The proposals were supported during a public consultation in autumn 2021. A variety of methods were used to advertise the consultation and capture the views of a wide range of stakeholders, this included the Council’s website, press releases, resident e-newsletter and business bulletin, social media, email to identified stakeholders, leaflet and letters in the local area, and road signage.

Further details of the consultation methodology was provided to Central Stockport Area Committee in December 2021 (see Item 7). The Council has sought to engage with affected parties and understand all comments and concerns to inform the development of the scheme.

The consultation presented the opportunity for the wider community to provide feedback on how the scheme would impact the area for various different purposes. A number of changes were made to the scheme in response to comments received, as detailed in the report to Area Committee in December. With the above in mind the Area Committee recommended to the Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration that the scheme be approved for construction and enforcement, and funding has subsequently been approved by TfGM.

How has the closure been communicated/how will it be?

Advanced notice signage has been placed in prominent locations across the town centre to make motorists aware of closures to through traffic in advance.
The Council has re-engaged directly with affected parties and undertaken a variety of awareness-raising communications including on the website, press releases, social media and letters in the local area. Directional signage has been reviewed and will be updated as necessary to reflect the changes to routing.

What impact will this have on footfall/local businesses?

The scheme is intended to create a safer and more attractive environment, and thereby increase footfall in the area. It will improve the visitor experience for residents and businesses as part of a multi-million-pound regeneration of the town centre, building on the changes currently underway which are already seeing greater numbers of residents and businesses in the Market and Underbanks.

The scheme will create a traffic free environment allows businesses to apply for permission to have seating outside and/or have displays outside all of which helps to animate the area and attract visitors. The scheme seeks a balance between addressing current road safety issues, encouraging people to spend more time in the area and still accommodating motor vehicle access for servicing, deliveries and mobility impaired people.

How much is this costing and how is it funded?

Following the submission of a successful bid for this specific scheme, £780k funding for its delivery has been secured from TfGM’s Active Travel Fund, supported by a Government commitment to support the development of interventions to make safe spaces for walking and cycling. Please note that the funding secured can only be used for the Market and Underbanks Access Plan works.

How will the changes affect deliveries to my property?

You will need to arrange deliveries outside of the times of the closure. Alternatively, opportunities for drop off are provided on Churchgate and Park Street, St Petersgate at all times of day and at the southern end of Mealhouse Brow from 4pm to 10.30am.

What if I need access for contractors, deliveries of large items or moving house during the hours of day the closures are in place?

You should arrange for access during the times of day when the road is open to traffic. In exceptional circumstances when this is not possible, contact should be made with Stockport Council’s Network Management team by emailing Streetworks.coord@stockport.gov.uk to make arrangements for accessing the area. Early discussions with Stockport Council to arrange access are encouraged.