Situated 7 miles south east of Manchester City Centre, Stockport has had a bit of a chequered history in terms of its desirability as a place to live. However, things are on the up for this former mill town, with earnest redevelopment plans current in full swing across the town. It’s a busy time, particularly with Manchester’s increasing popularity as the industrial and social epicentre of the North West.
It’s no surprise, really, that Stockport is so determined to stake its claim on the map in light of Manchester’s continuing success, particularly with young professionals, and millennial creatives flocking to the city to work, study, and live the vibrant urban life that Manchester has to offer. It would be nothing less than foolish for Stockport not to be seizing this golden opportunity for fresh blood. And let’s just say, Stockport has been quick off the mark.
The potential impact that the substantial changes and improvements will have on the area should not be underestimated, and – in our opinion – endorses potential growth afforded to the area.
Regeneration and Investment
One of Stockport’s main benefits is that it is ideally situated for commuters travelling into the city to work, with just over 10% doing so at present. With so much going on to develop Stockport itself, we’d be surprised if many weren’t abandoning the city in favour of Stockport town before long.
The council is hard at work creating a town that will attract more residents seeking a place outside the main city, and also on creating an inspiring working atmosphere within Stockport itself. £1bn is being invested by Stockport Council and its partners, into a wide range of projects, both in leisure and retail, and in the commercial sector.
Commercial and Industrial
By the end of 2016, one of the North West’s newest business hubs, the Stockport Exchange, will be completed in Stockport town centre. Set within stunning landscaped public grounds, right beside the mainline railway station, the Exchange will offer 370,000 sq ft of serious prime office space, a 1,000 space car park, and a 115 bedroom hotel. This is just one part of the major commercial development being undertaken in the town.
The new Aurora Stockport industrial estate, just outside the centre of town, has also had £11 million poured into it, in order to transform the 18 acre site into 145,000 square foot of industrial space. It’s estimated that Aurora alone will create hundreds of new jobs in the local area.
Leisure and Retail
The town centre alone is receiving £900 million in investment over the next five years, to include street improvements and ‘Portas’ retail improvements. This, however, appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Redrock Stockport, next to Merseyway Shopping Centre, is a £45 million development set to be completed in late 2017, and will include a 10 screen cinema, new public squares and over 38,000 sq.ft. of retail and restaurant space, including an ‘Urban Realm’ with entertainment areas, bars and cafes. Research estimates that the development’s total retail market potential on completion will be around £469 million.
The historical Market Place and Underbanks area of Stockport town centre has also received a hefty investment of £7 million, with the view of creating a hub for independent retailers, restaurants and bars, and workspace for the creative industries.
A large, design-sensitive project is underway to replace existing 1950s social housing with hundreds of newly-built two and three bedroom town houses, which will incorporate the refurbishment of historic properties and buildings within the Lower Hillgate conservation area.
New Housing and Transport Plans
The Council aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to housing and transport. £73 million of investment into town centre access and circulation, and £42 million for a transport interchange prove Stockport isn’t messing around making sure all the new residents and businesses they desire can get around the town with ease.
More residential development is taking place beside the Town Hall in Piccadilly Square. In place of the HR Owen Lamborghini former showroom, the construction of a luxury residential apartment development is in progress.
1,100 new houses are set to be built over the next few years, including new ‘urban villages’ in Covent Garden and Hopes Carr areas of the town. Over 270 new homes will also be springing up in nearby Brinnington.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Manchester International Airport, about 8 miles away, is closer to Stockport than it is to Manchester. The airport, too, is undergoing a £1bn transformation and growth program. Another reason why Stockport is a good call for property: its proximity to the airport makes it a popular housing location for airport workers – especially when the Metrolink is completed.
Just to be clear: investing early in property in Stockport while these regeneration plans are in progress is likely to prove to be a smart move, as major regeneration works like these into the infrastructure and the creation of many new jobs (such as those at Airport City) typically lead to above average increases in property prices.
Culture, Facilities and Education
Apart from being situated in the town’s business district, next to Stockport Courts and the Town Hall, close to Archer House is Stockport College Campus. The town’s main hospital, Stepping Hill, is only approximately 1.8 miles south of the town centre, and many of its staff will choose to live in the town centre close to its amenities and attractions.
Stockport town centre is not without its culture, either! The town is home to the National Hat Museum, and the Staircase House Museum, a beautifully restored 15th century townhouse in the historic Market Place. There’s also the Air Raid Shelters Museum, a WWII museum set deep in the sandstone caves under the town.
The Plaza in Mersey Square has regular live theatre, comedy, dance and music performances, while the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery as four separate galleries hosting regular exhibitions.
Demographics and Work
According to data gathered by the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, in 2016 the total population is 286,800. 62% of these are of working age. Of this figure, 81.5% are ‘economically active’ (i.e. they work) – this is up 2.2% on 2015’s figures, and compares favourably with the UK average of 74.6%.
The Council’s latest figures tell us that 41.4% of the Stockport population are educated to at least NVQ Level 4, and that in 2016, the highest proportion of Stockport’s working population are in Professional roles.
Full time workers who are resident in Stockport were found to be earning a gross median weekly income of £520.10. This is slightly above the UK median of £518.00, though the workplaces situated in Stockport itself pay slightly under the UK median of £518.00, at £495.30.
The Business District of Stockport is one of the largest employment areas of the town, concentrated to the south of the main shopping and retail area around Merseyway. Within the Business District, there are numerous employers occupying large office premises, including insurance companies, banks, local government departments, and the local authority.
To summarise: employment opportunities in the region are consistently healthy, which is why Greater Manchester has more UK millionaires than anywhere else outside of London.
Before we move on to details on property sales and rentals in Stockport, a quick note on marital status. It’s common sense that the marital status of a town’s residents has an impact on the sort of properties on the market, to an extent that parallels income factors. So, just for interest, here are some figures, gathered from the 2011 census:
Stockport Property Market
Stockport is a highly sought-after residential region of Greater Manchester, located on the southern Manchester/north Cheshire border. The town boasts an above-average home ownership rate, as well as strong demand for property and accommodation. As a result, property prices here are higher than average for the area.
The areas of Woodford, Bramhall and Hazel Grove rank among some of the wealthiest in the UK. What’s more, beyond the urban sprawl and close vibrant Manchester city centre, you’ll find miles of beautiful open countryside, from the Pennines to the Cheshire Plain.
Using the most recent data to hand, we can see that the quickest sales in Stockport at present are in the £100,000 to £200,000 bracket, which is little surprise considering that the average house price in Stockport (according to March 2015 data) were around £156,421. Of course, this is likely to have increased over the last year, as the general UK property market has continued to swell during this period.
Nonetheless, this information doesn’t tell us much about what buyers are getting for that price. If, however, we then look at similar data by type of property, as opposed to value, it becomes clear that the quickest movers are in the Detached and Semi-Detached categories, with three beds taking the shortest time to sell.
This is all very well, but if you’re looking to invest in rental property in Stockport, you’re going to want to see a different graph. Well, here you go:
The figures aren’t particularly out of the ordinary, with the highest volume of properties on the market being two bed and taking the shortest period to rent. The rental amount you can expect from Stockport at present is about £100 less than the UK average (excluding London), but within the general ballpark average of the north west. But post-regeneration? This could increase considerably.
To Conclude: Is Stockport Worth Your Investment?
There’s no short answer to this, because any location can see growth or price drops due to factors outside the foreseeable. So, as always, we’re not making any assurances.
However, there are some truly promising signs afoot in Stockport. The regeneration projects into which the town has pooled an optimistic £1bn are sure to bring a lot of interest to the town. Already, large corporate firms are beginning to pay attention.
Just in case you needed a few more examples, commercial lettings company Orbit has invested heavily on its portfolio in the town, modernising its office spaces, offering flexible office space packages, updating technology and broadband connectivity, and even introducing a reward scheme for its customers.
In addition, independent brewers, Robinsons, has invested £12 million in updating its portfolio of pubs, as well as opening a new visitors’ centre and restaurant, and software company CDL has expanded into a shiny new office in the centre of town, creating 50 local jobs.
With so much money pouring into Stockport, now may just be the best time that there has ever been to invest in this long-overlooked northern town.