STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has welcomed moves that should lead to the redevelopment of a burnt-out health club in the heart of Stalybridge.
Since it was gutted by fire in 2005 the former Casablanca gym and health club has remained derelict and has been widely considered to be a blot on the town centre landscape. But now there are hopes that the site will be redeveloped, following action taken by Tameside Council.
It is in the past few days that the site has been secured by Tameside Council and then sold on to the housing association New Charter. And Mr Reynolds believes the move will help to breathe new life in to the area of the town centre around the canal.
Last year Mr Reynolds highlighted the problems caused by the state of the health club during a debate in Parliament, where he referred to it as a ‘bombsite’.
And since his election in May 2010 he has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure the building was not allowed to remain in a derelict site.
Welcoming the sale of the site, he said: “Derelict buildings like this one in Stalybridge are eyesores that can have a detrimental impact on town centres – deterring businesses from trading and shoppers from visiting.
“Yet too often the powers to force landlords to take any action can be cumbersome and difficult to enforce.
“Residents and traders have been campaigning to get rid of this particular eyesore for a number of years – and, as the local Member of Parliament, I have been just as determined that it should go.
“I believe the area around the canal in Stalybridge is so picturesque that it has the potential to be a magnet for those looking simply to wander by the water on a lazy weekend afternoon or to catch up with friends in a cafe or bar.
“And now – after years of complaints from residents and traders - the removal of this eyesore will finally offer the opportunity to breathe new life and vibrancy into this part of town.
“The action taken by Tameside Council will make a real difference to Stalybridge. And I hope their success will encourage similar progress in other areas.”
Tameside Council used the Law of Property Act 1925 to take ownership of the former health club, on Armentieres Square. It is the first case of its kind in the borough.
The problems caused by derelict buildings are among the issues highlighted by retail expert Mary Portas in her Portas Review that has been considered by the newly-formed Stalybridge Town Team.
In a debate in Parliament on the Portas Review earlier this year, Mr Reynolds backed proposals to put more pressure on town centre landlords to maintain their properties and to keep them tenanted.
Mr Reynolds is a member of the Stalybridge Town Team, which brings together traders, community leaders, councillors and residents with the common purpose of ensuring the town centre fulfils its potential.
Published 20 August, 2012