Altrincham Forward Announce Town Centre Plan

July 18, 2012 8:55 am

Altrincham Forward Town Centre Action Plan

Altrincham Forward, the group set up to help regenerate Altrincham are announcing their plan to improve Altrincham Town Centre next week on the 25th July.

The Altrincham Town Centre Action Plan will be launched next week and followed up with a series of public events where the team will go through the ideas and initiatives to help boost the local economy and get Altrincham Town Centre back to how we all remember it.

Altrincham Forward was set up last year to tackle the growing problem in Altrincham of empty shops and economic downturn. The members have an impressive background and come from many different specialisms all of which are ideally placed to bring a fresh view point and expertise to the area.

There is no doubt that Altrincham is on its way up, with plans for the new hospital, new bars and restaurants opening as well as some fantastic Altrincham events. However, there have been some hiccups along the way and with these in mind it is important to have an organisation such as Altrincham Forward working on ways to improve it.

Altrincham Forward are launching their plans for 2012 and 2013 and is open for feedback from the community. The group plan to look at Altrincham town centre as much more than just a shopping centre, but a community full of events, heritage, independent retailers and businesses. The plan looks to improve the the area physically and aesthetically and also build the town as a place to visit and enjoy spending time there.

Cllr Matt Colledge, chairman of Altrincham Forward and leader of Trafford Council, said:

“When we launched Altrincham Forward in March this year, we said we intended to put the smile back in Altrincham and this Action Plan is aimed at doing just that.

“All town centres are facing challenges, but we are lucky in that our town is already a good place to live with many advantages – its location, educational provision and transport links to name just a few. The centre and its retail offer have not adapted to meet today’s expectations and the Altrincham Forward partnership was brought together to address that.

“This year’s Plan has almost 30 separate action points, ranging from a campaign to encourage and support independent businesses and a scheme for the short term use of vacant units – to the development of a year round programme of events for the town.”

Jackie Campbell, Altrincham Forward board member and chairman of Altrincham and Sale Chamber of Commerce said:

“Altrincham Forward now has three work groups dealing with the physical place’, the economy and quality of life.

“Each of these groups is leading the work on a range of actions in the plan. In addition there are small teams providing marketing support and investigating funding options. All include volunteers from the Altrincham Forward Board and Associates, together with relevant Trafford Council representatives and officers.”

David Wightman, centre manager of the Stamford Quarter, said:

“We are already seeing signs of improvement in the town centre – footfall and use of car parks are up and there is some renewed interest in vacant units. We are pleased to be working with Altrincham Forward and Trafford Council to deliver a healthy high street and a town centre that is enjoyable to visit.”

Cllr Colledge added:

“Over the next few weeks we will be asking residents and businesses for their views and ideas. Their feedback will inform the various groups delivering the action plan and we also want to involve more local people in that work. Altrincham people love their town and there are already a number of groups meeting and saying they want to contribute to improving the centre. To be successful we need to harness that enthusiasm and all work together, so we will be encouraging people to join in.”

The breakfast launch is invite only, however members of the public are encouraged to pop down to the Town Hall on the 25th July between 12 noon and 5pm to pick up a detailed copy of the plan.

You can also view the Action Plan and a questionnaire for feedback on the Altrincham Forward website.
Questionnaires will also be available throughout the town centre.

9 Comments

  1. Nick Smith
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    With rival shopping areas so close Alty needs a genuine USP; something that the Trafford Centre, Sale, Wilmslow, Knutsford etc do not have. I wish I had the answer, but the Altair development could be a catalyst for this as things like Alty’s highest concentration of Belgian Bars outside of Belgium!

  2. Need to point out a few things. Altrincham Forward was launched last September at Taste of Trafford. It’s taken an awful long time to do anything and we’re yet to see the so-called action plan! Residents and businesses have already given their views and suggestions so why are they asking for yet more? What have they been doing ALL THIS TIME? What is needed now is action. The increase in footfall pre-dates Altrincham Forward – it was the result of a campaign led by the now defunct ATR. The hospital redevelopment also pre-dates AF and the Gateway area regeneration has nothing to do with AF either, so consider carefully what this group tries to claim it has ACHIEVED already. I just hate people who claim responsibility for the work of others. If we were paid what these people are paid, you could be damn sure there would have been more regenerative activity by now. I’m not part of AF because although it may be aimed at moving forward, it is ill-equipped. I’m working with other voluntary groups to deliver actual change like additional litter bins, rapid removal of fly posting and graffiti, regular clean ups, installation of proper colourful planters, and more recently, a marketing campaign aimed at putting Altrincham back on the map as an upmarket dining destination.

  3. We wish to express our disappointment at the inaccurate comments from Sarah Walmsley to your item on the launch of the Altrincham Town Centre Action Plan. We would like to clarify a few things in response: -

    • Altrincham Forward is an informal partnership between the local authority, private sector, voluntary groups and supportive individuals.

    • Only one person is employed directly on Altrincham Forward activities and that is for 2 days a week

    • Most of those involved are volunteers working free of charge, including a large number of local companies, representatives of local community groups and local residents

    • No Trafford Council staff are directly employed on Altrincham Forward activities. Any work that they do for Altrincham Forward is as part of their day-to-day duties and no extra payments are made.

    • The press release does not make any claim that Altrincham Forward “achieved” the new hospital or any other regeneration or improvement. However it should be pointed out that individual partners in Altrincham Forward played a major part in securing all those developments

    • Trafford Council is grateful for Ms. Walmsleys “clean up” activities and recently gave her campaign £4,032 through it’s voluntary sector grants scheme. The additional litterbins and new planters in Altrincham Town Centre were supplied and funded by Trafford Council.

    • A voluntary, unfunded partnership does take longer to put actions in place, but the commitment, hard work and time of those involved has now resulted in a detailed Action Plan for the town centre.

    • Following the launch on 25th July, we will be asking for feedback specifically on the contents of that Plan. We will also be inviting more people to get involved in helping to revitalise our town. It is only through the strength of a united front that we can make change happen. Inaccurate comments are divisive and make no contribution to building a vibrant future for Altrincham

  4. Mark
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    For me Altrincham just feels unwelcoming. Your traffic wardens are legendary predators! The fact you charge for parking at all when you have the free-to-park enormous one-stop-shop (Tesco) destroying mainstream high street shopping. This means that the only shops that can survive are low volume, high margin product retailers.

    Altrincham is right in the middle of some of the most affluent areas in the country and shops still can’t turn a profit because of greedy landlords and throttled footfall (through the parking policy). Wake up and people like me will come over from wilmslow to buy premium stuff. Tesco has stripped the weekly shoppers for good now (that was the killer blow btw but it’s done now) leaving a great opportunity for premium and aspirational retail units but people like myself don’t want to be checking our watches every 10 minutes whilst we browse shops and clothes and take in a lazy coffee on a shopping aternoon. Stop trying to eek out every penny in business rates and penalties and start trying to invite people. It honestly is that simple.

    Bit of a rant but meant with love, I grew up in Alty before moving to Wilmslow ;-)

  5. Talk about inaccurate comments! At least I put my own name to my comments instead of being some nameless bureaucrat or PR person!
    Trafford have agreed to grant us £4,000 (not £4032) but we have not received it and will not be able to for some time yet as we have several red tape hoops to jump through first.
    How nice that my contribution is recognised by the Council which is responsible for cleaning up in the first place. Our contribution is much greater than ‘cleaning up’. And sure, Trafford may have paid for new planters and bins, but it wasn’t on their radar until we brought it to their attention and campaigned for them. Incidentally, the bins were supposed to be installed in April, then June, now I’m told next week. It just goes on and on.
    I respect all the volunteers who are involved in AF but many are frustrated with agonisingly slow progress and might well have achieved more working on their own or with other groups instead of being shrouded by this big AF umbrella.
    When it comes to what people are being paid, I refer of course to the council officials who as part of their job have been drawn into this work. If some of the manpower that has been put into AF had been translated into funding for voluntary groups instead, I believe much more would have been achieved. Volunteers are notoriously more productive than those who are paid a salary to do a job. The passion to make improvements comes from volunteers. Only yesterday I was passed from pillar to post at Trafford Council because nobody wants to deal with a certain issue. More than my job’s worth rather than let’s see how we can fix this.
    Anyway rant over. I am cynical about the Council’s ability because time after time I watch them fail to be effective. I’d love to be wrong but I have a feeling the master plan is going to need significant work, given the feedback I’ve already heard from those more directly involved. I’m so sick of waiting and I’m sure others are too.

  6. Sarah J
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Wholeheartedly in agreement with Mark. He has hit the nail on the head.
    Our “Market Town” should by the nature of the surrounding demographic be booming. Rents and Parking will continue to hold Altrincham back, unless a Radical solution is found. Rent incentives would appeal to both Aspirational Brands and Local Independents. One decent Anchor store will bring other desirable brands following.The Market and Traders Outlet are proof that we have a feast of local small independent retailers. Just lunacy that the Town is blighted by vacant units.
    More Free parking would increase footfall to retailers without a doubt. I thought the 10p Hour campaign had increased the no of shoppers? I think the way forward is clear. That said I have to pay Trafford council to park outside my own house! Will Trafford ever surrender their massive income from parking?

    Bringing the old McDonald’s store back to life would be another positive, if you hop off the train on a First visit to Altrincham on initial impressions, it’s no Beverly Hills of The North..but it could be…

  7. Ok Altrincham Forward. Let’s see if you’re prepared to answer a straight forward question. How much has Altrincham Forward cost the Council so far? We hear from Council management that it’s ‘costing a fortune’ so how much is it exactly?

    So that’s the salary of Helen France (2 days per week) and since council officers are being diverted from their usual duties, the proportion of their salaries according to how many hours they’ve spent on Altrincham Forward work.

    Don’t tell me you don’t have these figures. You have to know them or else management wouldn’t be complaining about the cost would they?!

  8. Re the parking – I know what you’re saying, but parking only costs 10p.

    There needs to be some kind of time limit in place otherwise every parking space in town would be filled with the cars of Metrolink commuters all day long.

    Personally as much as I dislike overly officious parking wardens, I don’t feel that the parking charges are the problem. It doesn’t put me off coming in to Altrincham. Though the regent road car park is a bit of a joke.

    There’s a mass of land where the old downs bowling green used to be which is just going to ruin now. That sits alongside the car park and could easily be subsumed into it. It would double-the parking capacity. Long term it would be a worthwhile investment for Altrincham.

    The old McDonald’s is an eyesore. I’d like to find out who owns it and actively lobby’s them, as they’re probably sitting on it until the market turns with plans to turn it into a tesco local or some such.

    As regards a USP altrincham has one. It is it’s historic market.

    We need to incentivise traders to come there. The only stalls which do well these days are the food stalls – great eggs, cheese, bread, fish. So let’s target artisan producers, there’s space for a wonderful street cafe, too.

    The market used to be the beating heart of altrincham. And while we have to accept that shopping habits have changed and that it’s pointless to try and recreate what it once was, there are businesses who would sit there perfectly and with the right marketing/pr would flourish.

    I’d like to see a market full of great local produce – meat from the Dunham farmshop – not the one with the ‘maze’ the smaller one down the side of the axe and cleaver who sell their own meat from a tiny shop. Dunham ice cream and ales. A wide range of produce from Tatton, There are countless producers of pies, sauces, crafts, quiches, cheeses in the region. And a cafe where you can sit and enjoy them would be awesome.

    I’m in danger of getting carried away. But those are my thoughts. For what they are worth.

  9. Harriet Vine
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Interesting comments from Sarah Walmsley and good to challenge an organization that is unclear about its membersand their interests. I would hate parts of our town to be privatised by PFI schemes or the nod and friendly word in an ear to make the politics look good. Be more transparent as to who the members are. I see PR, developers, consultants. Where is the voice for the common man/woman? The Altrincham Forward plan is wordy and maybe well intended but it is a salad of words and of no real substance and detail. Not very balanced is it. If the selected members are working in our interests, please name them all and there associated busisnesses. Harriet Vine


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