This month’s reopened window on the shop windows

For the second time this year, our window on the Tameside shop windows has been delayed. There is a good reason for this, we have deferred this month’s edition to tie in with this coming Monday’s events. Confused? Well you shouldn’t be, because on Monday 12 April 2021, non-essential retail premises will be reopening across the UK. Also our pubs and restaurants – well, the forecourts and gardens of our licensed premises – of those which have Beer Gardens.

What’s happening after the 12 April?

If you have missed going to your favourite non-essential shops, that wait will be over on Monday. As with your favourite essential shops, the usual social distancing rules will be in place, and you still need to wear a face covering once inside the shop. In most cases, you might need to use the Test and Trace app on your smartphone or note your name and telephone number on a sheet of paper in the shop or pub.

In Ashton’s and Hyde’s market halls and market grounds, stalls selling non-essential items will be allowed to trade again. Once again, the usual social distancing rules apply, inside and outside. For open markets, it may be courteous of you to wear a face covering to allow social distancing (with the 1m+PPE rule) between yourself and the stall holder.

As for our public houses, any pubs with ample beer gardens will be able to open again, though with several conditions. Firstly, you will only be able to have a pint or a meal outdoors (non-smokers will get to know what smokers have faced since July 2007). Thankfully, some pubs have invested in substantial covered areas.

Secondly, you could only go inside the pub to order your drinks, use the facilities, add to the Test and Trace app, or add your name and number for testing and tracing purposes. Thirdly, you might need to wear a face covering whilst inside the pub, and each time you move around the beer garden/patio/backyard/converted car park.

As for when you could enjoy a pint indoors, that option will be available from the 17 May 2021. You could be sure that the next month will be the coldest April on record with a dull May Day Bank Holiday before we see scorching weather conditions a week after the Local Elections.

Peacocks saved again, though with fewer stores

In the last week, there was another twist in the saga of the Peacocks store chain. In November, a month before the third lockdown, Peacocks went into administration. On Tuesday, it was announced that a consortium of investors led by Steve Simpson (Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s Chief Operating Officer) has saved up to 200 stores and 2,000 jobs. The downside of this is the loss of 225 stores, 28 of which in the North West of England.

In Greater Manchester, this will see the closure of two stores in Manchester (Manchester Arndale and Lime Square Shopping Centre), plus further stores in Bury, Stockport, Wigan, and Cheetham Hill. All three of Tameside’s branches (Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Hyde) have been saved from closure.

Hyde to lose yet another bank

On the 15 July 2021, another bank is set to disappear from Hyde. This time, Santander on 11 Market Place. It is one of 111 branches that will be closed across the UK. In Greater Manchester, this will be joined by branches in Bramhall (05 August 2021), Cheadle, Chorlton-cum-Hardy (both 08 July 2021), Sale (22 July 2021), Swinton (01 July 2021) and Walkden (24 June 2021).

According to Santander, the branches that are closing are within three miles of other branches. In Hyde’s case, Stockport and Ashton-under-Lyne. Hyde’s branch was formerly the Abbey National Building Society and, way before then, the town’s branch of the UCP Tripe Shop.

Ashton’s forthcoming artisan market

Starting on the 24 April, and on the last Saturday of the month thereafter will be the Ashton Artisan Market. Whereas previous occasional markets have been held by Tameside MBC themselves, the Council has teamed up with a private concern, The Market Co. Situated in Wilmslow, run Artisan Markets in Haigh Woodland (near Wigan), Chesterfield, Northwich, Urmston, and Wilmslow. Whether this will be in addition to, or in place of the long-running Farmers’ Markets remains to be seen.

This move has had a mixed reception, with Stalybridge people being against this venture. Their complaint is that Stalybridge has had similar markets held by Tameside MBC (second Sunday in the month) and private operators (most notably MWL Events), which have been successful and stopped in their prime. Some people think the plans to turn part of Stalybridge Civic Hall into an Altrincham-style foodie market are in tatters.

Needless to say, this controversy hasn’t escaped the attention of Kurt Mcpartland, Conservative Party candidate for the Dukinfield/Stalybridge Ward in this year’s Local Elections. With no Stalybridge Party this year, there’s a chance of a shock or close shave for the Labour incumbent. Especially as he ticks many of the local boxes like being born and brought up in Stalybridge. For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he sounds like the ideal councillor candidate for breaking up the red wall, being as he previously voted Labour.

“Rip It Up and Start Again”

What’s being refurbished or demolished and replaced this month or two?

Poundland, Warrington Street

What??? Poundland? They have only been in the former Marks and Spencer unit for two minutes. (“Deep breaths now” – Ed). Before you hyperventilate, Ashton-under-Lyne’s Poundland store is going nowhere. Instead, there are plans for the redevelopment of the two floors above.

Continuing our borough’s Flats Above Shops Boom are plans to turn the vacant First and Second Floors of Poundland into 18 one-bedroom flats and 14 two-bedroom flats. Under the plans submitted by Adar Investment, there will also be a shared rooftop garden and community space. For its occupiers, there will also be inner terraces, designed to give natural light and private space.

Church Street, Ashton-under-Lyne

A former warehouse on Church Street could be converted into 31 apartments. Developed by Real Estate Aventor Ltd., this will have 31 dwellings, and superb views of Park Parade.

Over the last decade, there has been a shift towards the New York/Manchester style loft apartment schtick for Ashton-under-Lyne. In the eyes of the developers, residents will enjoy their views of the Market Ground or Old Chapel Church, after getting an artisanal pie from the open market and a craft beer from Browtons.

Is the reality somewhat different, with an inexpensive pint from the Top End Bar and a view of Old Chapel with bacon muffins and a strong brew?

Forthcoming Planning Applications

Any plans affecting our public houses will be seen in the Pub and Club Update section. Aye thank you…

A bit livelier than last month.

  • Over the last month, plans have been submitted for the conversion of Stalybridge’s old sorting office into four houses. There will be two two-bedroom houses, a three-bedroom house, and a three-bedroom apartment. The building’s “‘modern unsympathetic’ extension” will be demolished and replaced.
  • Plans have been submitted for the extension of News and Booze on Commercial Brow, Newton. This will see an increase in retail floor space, additional residential accommodation, fencing and a communal area.
  • At ASDA’s Cavendish Street store, Ashton-under-Lyne, plans have been submitted for two illuminated totem advertisements. These are for the drive-thru Starbucks Coffee shop nearest to Alma Bridge.
  • The Clean Scene laundrette on 75 Manchester Road, Denton could be changed into a chemist shop, a branch of Cohen’s Chemist.
  • Plans have been submitted for the refurbishment of Droylsden Shopping Centre. These entail changes to Retail Units G, H and J – leased by Peacocks, Poundland, and B&M Bargains at present, changes to disabled parking spaces and a turning head for service vehicles.
  • The long closed Barclays Bank branch on Market Street, Hyde, could be converted into three commercial units with two three-bedroom flats on the First Floor and the Second Floor. The basement will also be used for storage space.
  • Deshopification could be the eventual fate of 95 Haughton Green Road, with the ground floor hairdressers’ unit and flat being converted into a six-person House in Multiple Occupation.

Pub and club update

Despite the hype surrounding the phased-in reopening of our pubs and restaurants, this month doesn’t make for good reading with the permanent loss of two iconic pubs.

Firstly, the Godley Hall Inn in Godley, close to the long-closed Godley Junction railway station. After two years of uncertainty, it has now succumbed to depubification. It is being converted into houses by a Stalybridge-based property developer. Also heading the same way is The Old Pack Horse Inn over in Audenshaw. The former Robinson’s house (one that escaped the brewery’s Farrow and Ball Battleship Grey fetish) on Guide Lane will be converted into two self-contained dwellings.

In Droylsden, the depubification of The Cotton Tree has been made complete. Since the assassination of Mark Short by Dale Cregan in 2012, the pub closed immediately afterwards. In 2013, it was purchased by Tameside MBC. The former pub – latterly trading as an Indian restaurant – has been put up for sale by the Council, who hope to raise over £200,000 from its disposal. The purchaser of the property cannot turn it back into a public house, thanks to the imposition of a barring clause.

In advance of the first post-lockdown reopening date for our pubs, the British Protection and The Organ in Stalybridge have submitted plans for the creation of beer gardens. These will use vacant land next to the respective pubs. The Organ’s plans will see the erection of a covered shelter.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 08 May 2021 at the usual time of 9am. Will we be seeing livelier High Streets? Was Phase Two of the roadmap successful for our pubs and shops?

Who knows where we’ll be next month. Hopefully not towards a fourth lockdown.

S.V., 10 April 2021.

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