Stockport was dubbed as having the highest commercial property vacancy rate in large UK towns, with 30 per cent of all properties unoccupied. But the city has offset this trend by having the most new start-up businesses than anywhere else in England.
Business start-ups in Stockport have risen by 10.8 per cent, which equates to 2335 new businesses, since 2010. These new firms will have given the high property vacancy rate a push in the right direction by taking out leases on offices and commercial properties to house their new business ventures.
However, David Goddard, Stockport Council Leader, believed that the high vacancy rate which was reported by the Local Data Company (LDC) in February 2012, was not accurate: “For anyone who has visited Stockport recently, it is clear that this report does not accurately reflect our town centre. It continues to boast a vibrant and successful shopping area, attracting household names like Primark, GAP and H&M.
“There are challenges facing retailers, but we are working together to tackle them head on,” Mr Goddard added.
Speaking of the growth, Paul Lawrence, Director of Regeneration in Stockport, believes the council’s support for new and upcoming businesses had the most impact: “We have had a comprehensive support programme to anyone who wants to start up a business, and also we have been quite targeted about that.”
Mr Lawrence added that the Stockport Council had developed different start-up programmes for different people: “Young people, we have had a programme for them, and particularly older people, there are lots of older people who want to start up a business and uniquely we have had a targeted approach to that and it seems to have paid dividends.”
However, Dr Brian Sloan from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce disagreed that the council should take all the credit for the business growth in the area. Instead he believes it could be down to public sector cuts.
“Given the scale of some of the public sector losses that we have seen, business employees that have lost their jobs during and post recession, that might be a factor behind an increase.”
Dr Sloan also expressed that people may have registered their business in the Stockport area, but set up elsewhere: “We have a highly qualified, more affluent population in Stockport, with more professionals setting up as self-employed consultancies. They may be setting up their businesses in other areas of Greater Manchester but registering their businesses in Stockport.”
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