Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside, January 2019: The Ashton Review of Shops

This month’s window on the shop windows

  • Ashton parking peeves attract attention of Angela Rayner;
  • Tameside One set to open this month;
  • Plus all the usual retail movements, our first summary for 2019.

RingGo no-no ire continues

If you wish to look at the bigger picture outside our borough, Christmas 2018 has been a pretty grim one for bricks and mortar retailers. Firstly, we have heard of HMV entering liquidation again. Secondly, Mothercare is continuing to shed stores with its Denton Crown Point North branch up for the chopping list. On the 03 January, Next’s modest rise in bricks and mortar sales was outstripped by a rise in online sales – 15% over 1.5% for High Street figures.

Meanwhile in Ashton, the new-fangled RingGo parking scheme may have boosted online sales in the Tameside area. So much so that 30% – 50% drops in footfall have been recorded among retailers. As we noted last month, RingGo has continued to dominate social media sites, blaming this for Ashton-under-Lyne’s lack of Christmas cheer. The biggest criticism refers to the cut in free parking time, from an hour to half an hour, which has been eloquently put on the Tameside Reporter‘s website.

Over a month after the story was seen on BBC News, we find that Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner has written to a fellow constituent on the subject. Though Angela is happy with the £1.00 for an hour’s parking rate, she has suggested that urgent action should be taken. Like Stalybridge South Conservative councillor Liam Billington, she would like to see on-street cash meters.

Angela Rayner would also like to see the cessation of RingGo, but will that be enough to entice shoppers back to Ashton? £1.00 for an hour’s parking is extremely good value compared with £2.50 for a ten minute bus journey. With petrol and insurance costs, it is still pretty good. How many shoppers have shied away from High Street shopping due to bus fares instead of parking rates?

Feeding the homeless on Christmas Day

In Ashton-under-Lyne, on Christmas Day morning, free MacMuffins were given to homeless people at McDonalds’ Warrington Street branch.

On a sadder note, Curzon Ashton Football Club (who aimed to offer breakfasts for homeless people) had a break in. Their kitchen was broken in to, prior to The Nash’s good deed. As well as upsetting the National League North side, its chef who travelled from Italy to Ashton was heartbroken to say the least.

TAC Tales: Update on the Joint Service Centre

By the end this month, we should be waxing lyrical over Tameside One. Tameside MBC’s successor to the TAC building should be open by the time you have read this month’s Ashton Review of Shops. The new building is four months behind schedule due to Carillion’s bankruptcy, providing a new home for Tameside MBC, additional facilities for Tameside College, and a new Wilko store.

In addition to the above, Ashton-under-Lyne Job Centre Plus will be moving in, as will Ashton Central Library. For the time being, the Tameside Local Studies Library will be staying put on Oldham Road. It is proposed that the iconic stone library building would be converted into offices. With there being no art gallery in Ashton-under-Lyne, the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery in Stalybridge will benefit from enhanced opening hours.

A few yards away, purpose built bus shelters have been added along the side of Ashton-under-Lyne’s Metrolink stop. For the main part of Tameside Transport Interchange, the ground has been levelled for its main terminal building.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

Polite Note: for reasons of brevity, any pub and club applications come under the Pub and Club Update section. You know it makes sense…

As Bjork said in 1995… a bit quiet.

  • As detailed in our TAC Tales thread, plans have been submitted for the conversion of Tameside Central Library and Art Gallery into offices. The application will also mean window repairs as well as internal alterations.
  • On 7A Stamford Square, Cockbrook, deshopification awaits a long-closed bakery opposite The Sycamore public house. Plans have been submitted for its conversion into offices and flats.
  • Further plans have been submitted for a new canopy over the former Theatre Royal in Hyde. This is part of its conversion into the Hyde Islamic Resource Centre.
  • As part of recent investment for Tameside College, a new Construction Skills Centre will be added to its Beaufort Road centre. This will see the extension of the Victoria building, plus the demolition of its refectory and the Portland Building which covered offices and classrooms for its bakery department. The refectory will be moved eastwards toward Dorset Street.
  • Plans have been submitted by the Katana Property Group for a change of use for Park House, Stalybridge. The former Tameside Reporter Office could be changed from offices to 10 one and two bedroom apartments. In previous years, asbestos has delayed the building’s redevelopment, which at one point was rumoured to become a branch of KFC. If anybody could find a home for the steel statue which has stood outside the building for nearly 40 years, any sensible answers are welcome.
  • On 111 Taylor Lane, Denton, the ground floor shop unit will merge with 113 Taylor Lane, doubling the size of its retail space.

Retail Movements

  • On Armadale Road, Dukinfield, the Armadale General Store has taken up two units of the four unit shopping area above the flats. With the Go Local banner, it has taken up the former Jan’s Plaice and C. Fraser Newsagents units. The previous unit, formerly known as Hilda’s Grocers in the late 1980s/early 1990s, is vacant.
  • With the closure of The Shubar café and shoe shop on Old Street, Ashton Foot Clinic has moved to The Seraphina Centre opposite St. Michael’s Square.
  • A recent addition to Concord Way, Dukinfield is the Manchester Vape Shack. No prizes for the kind of wares they sell, then…
  • In Bottom Mossley, LL’s Kitchen on Manchester Road is up for sale.
  • Could Minoti be going? There has been a closing down sale in their Mercian Way branch.
  • Also on Mercian Way, Gems has moved into the former Grainger Games unit.
  • Opposite the aforementioned Gems unit, Corn Floss will be setting up their stand in front of the vacant Timpson key cutting unit. They have established themselves as North West England’s Number One purveyor of hot flavoured sweetcorn-based snacks. Their Town Square Shopping Centre branch in Oldham is always busy; could Ashton’s stand be another success?
  • Next door to the newly opened NS Travel shop, Hays Travel should be open by the end of this month. Could Brexit save the bricks and mortar travel agent from going the way of video shops?
  • In Ashton-under-Lyne, you can enjoy Lebanese, Chinese, English, Indian, American, Vegan, and French cuisine within half a mile of its town hall. With the opening of Tarp’s Filipino Street Food stall in Ashton Indoor Market, another fresh choice at lunchtimes. Next to the fantastic Nat’s Bombay Kitchen and Sweets of Yesteryear stalls.

Pub and club update

In the last month, we have found that Tweed Two on High Street East, Glossop, and Four Kings Brewery’s Cask and Kitchen on Henry Street (also in Glossop) have opened for business. Evolutionary instead of revolutionary, The Hartshead Inn could be getting some fresh new signage.

Also in the northern end of Ashton-under-Lyne, The Dog and Pheasant in Waterloo has been treated to some new signage. In addition to mentioning the pub’s Sunday name, there is another sign which reads ‘Top Dog’, its nickname. The Indian Plaza, hitherto The Church on 90 Audenshaw Road could see the addition of a single storey extension.

In June 2018, The Ashton Review of Shops first knew about the depubification of The Dog and Partridge on Mottram Road, Stalybridge. With only a day to go till 2019, the pub on Mottram Rise served its last pints. Its depubification will see the pub converted to flats with a new build development on the site of its car park.

In the space of a decade, Mottram Road (from Mottram junction up to Huddersfield Road, Stalybridge) has gone from having seven pubs and clubs to just one pub (The Waggon and Horses off Matley Lane). The Sportsman is now an estate agents and the Hare and Hounds is an art gallery. The Junction is now flats whereas The Roe Cross Inn is on death row by demolition for (you’ve guessed it) flats.

Some happier news has come to us in the form of a reopening. This time, The Commercial Hotel on Manchester Road, Mossley, which is under new management and lovingly refurbished inside.

For the most part of this month, and a fair chunk of February, The Ash Tree‘s long-awaited refurbishment work will be going ahead. Therefore, J.D. Wetherspoon’s first Tameside will be closed from the 08 January to the 18 February. This will see the creation of a new outdoor seating area which will double the pub’s seating capacity. Needless to say, The Engine Room will be pretty busy, putting its kitchen to the test.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 02 February 2019 at the usual time of 9am. Yes, next month’s edition will be going out on Groundhog Day. 

S.V., 05 January 2019.

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