Threat to Marple Wharf
In January 2009, British Waterways (BW) held a public consultation on a proposal to develop their yard at Marple Wharf on Church Street, Marple.
The proposal included the closure of boating facilities, notice to the New Horizons charity boat to quit their moorings (after 28 years of service to people with disabilities) and the building of nine houses and two flats on the site. The Civic Society, reflecting the views of many Marple residents, strongly objected.
Following pressure from the Civic Society, BW agreed to a series of meetings with the Civic Society to discuss their proposal and examine options for the site.
During these meetings the Civic Society presented four documents to BW that identified major areas of concern and made alternative proposals for the site.
A long held aspiration of many, including the Marple Locks Heritage Society, was to convert the Toll House on the site to a Visitors Centre. As part of the consultation, the Civic Society prepared and presented to BW a Business Plan to use the Toll House as a Visitors Centre. But sadly, Canal and River Trust have decided to turn the Toll House into residential property with the neighbouring cottage; both are Grade 11 listed buildings and integral to Marple's canal history and heritage.
Opportunity Recognised - The Vision
During the course of the meetings with BW it became clear that Marple's canal system, including the wharf, had much to offer residents and visitors alike.
Following discussions with many local groups and societies the Civic Society put together a "Vision for Marple" that included the Wharf, the Macclesfield Canal and the Upper and Lower Peak Forest Canals. The Vision for Marple was presented to Stockport MBC Regeneration Team in January 2010 who agreed a Marple Canal Corridor long term package of projects that now has Council Executive approval for development and access to Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). Later that year a well attended public exhibition about The Vision for Marple took place and an evening reception was held for community groups and interested parties.
Manchester University showed interest in the Vision for Marple and used it as a Client Based Project: 'A Vision for Marple - Regenerating Marple's Historic Canal; for 4 students on an Urban Regeneration Masters Degree Course.
Turning the Vision into reality
From February to July 2011 discussions took place between SMBC officers, Cllr. Sue Ingham and Marple Civic Society. It was decided to set up an independent steering group to facilitate turning the 'Vision' into reality. The inaugural meeting of the Marple Vision Partnership Steering Group took place on Tuesday 6th September 2011. Since then approximately 50% of the projects have been completed or are work in progress.
The Vision for Marple has been extended to include the Town Centre and surrounding areas within Marple North and South wards. We are now working with local groups developing further projects to help make Marple, and its surrounding areas, a better place to live, work and visit.
The Canal & River Trust remain committed to developing Marple Wharf for mainly residential use despite the society's campaign for a more appropriate use. The civic society remain committed to changing their minds!
For up to date information on progress, be sure to visit the news page of the website. We would appreciate your feedback so look forward to hearing your views and ideas.