Greater Manchester's capital of cool is facing a grim problem

Market Place in Stockport
-Credit: (Image: Manchester Evening News)

One of Greater Manchester's trendiest town's is facing a surge in homelessness.

Stockport has been dubbed 'the New Berlin' for its transformed town centre and the number of cool bars and shops opening up for locals to enjoy.

It was recently named best place to live in the north west by the Sunday Times - and scores of people are wanting to move to the area and be part of the exciting changes taking place.

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But behind the headlines, homelessness is surging. The reasons are many - the high cost of living, rising rental prices, and a lack of new homes, to name a few.

This year, Stockport council expects to spend £1 million on hotels for people facing homelessness - a figure up from £180,000 in 2022.

A council report on the issue stated that an 'unprecedented' number of families are presenting as homeless in the borough.

And the number of people sleeping rough is 'double historic levels.' It's left the town hall appealing for help from the next national government.

Cheadle Hulme in Stockport
Stockport has been recognised as one of the UK's best places to live. -Credit:Kenny Brown / MEN

'We have to have government help'

One councillor said positive national headlines are behind the problem, as a surge in interest in the town has piled pressure on the local housing market.

Colin MacAlister, Stockport council's cabinet member for economy, regeneration, and housing, said: "In isolation no one council can solve this problem, we have to have government help. I'm hopeful that any new government will look favourably on that.

"We are as an authority doing some really good work with looking at accommodation that we can purchase to help out.

"We're dealing with 200 private accommodation which we would take over and manage on their behalf, giving us additional properties to let.

"We've seen all the headlines that we're one of the best places to live, retire, and bring up your children - but that in itself causes even more problems in housing when we have a decreasing housing stock.

"We need to address that problem, but until we get that national help we will do what we can."

Houses in Stockport.
Stockport has a housing shortage. -Credit:Anthony Moss / MEN

New homes and regeneration

Stockport council has faced criticism in the past for not having a local plan for housing.

The Lib Dems - who run the town hall - recently announced that this would be paused again during the general election campaign.

But thousands of new homes are being built around the borough, with around 25 percent due to be designated 'affordable.'

Other work to try and tackle the issue of homelessness is taking place, such as using enforcement action against empty properties where there is 'no prospect of it being returned to use.'

Alongside this, major regeneration projects are taking place, including the recent opening of Stockport transport interchange, which includes new flats.

These interchange apartments are priced at around £1,000 a month for a one-bedroom property - a figure which opposition councillors have said risks pricing local people out.

Stockport interchange flats.
New apartments are being built around Stockport. -Credit:Kenny Brown / MEN

'People are in horrible situations'

Claire Vibert, a Labour councillor and the party's candidate in the Hazel Grove constituency, said the situation with homelessness has become more difficult for the town hall because of the "ever increasing cost of temporary accommodation."

Mark Glynn, director of place management at Stockport council, said: "We need to keep working on this and keep finding alternative solutions.

"There's an awful lot of homes being built and there's a lot of affordable housing there.

"We're constantly reviewing how we use temporary accommodation. One of the key things we do is with prevention, to hopefully to stop more people becoming homeless - that's critical - and our figures are better than comparators, we do really well there.

"But what we also say to people in these horrible situations, is that you don't have to move [into hotels], you can be staying with your parents or your friends, and still have priority [for a new home].

"You don't need to move into the temporary accommodation in order to access additional priority."

Stockport town hall
Stockport council has appealed to the next government for help. -Credit:LDRS

Housing and homelessness are not issues unique to Stockport.

Salford's mayor - who leads the city council - declared a homelessness and housing crisis earlier this year, as growing numbers of people are presenting to the council without a place to live.

And Rochdale council declared a housing emergency last October, with residents applying for rehousing told they could face a five-year wait for a home.

Nine Greater Manchester councils have signed up to a scheme called Places for Everyone to try and tackle issues with a lack of housing.

This will see investment into new homes and jobs around the region - but it is controversial because it includes the use of some green belt land.

Stockport council decided to leave a previous version of the scheme over concerns about building on the green belt, and the Lib Dems who run the town hall have adopted a brownfield first policy.

But a Stockport council report on housing noted that there is a 'shortage' of affordable homes, with less than 600 social housing tenancies becoming available compared to 1,000 five years ago.

Stockport council was contacted for further details about the length of hotel stays and cost per night for families in hotels.