Merseyway Shopping Centre
Merseyway Shopping Centre is a large Shopping Centre in Stockport, England, forming the basis of the town's shopping area. It was opened in 1965 and extensively refurbished in 1995. It consists mainly of a large pedestrianised street, where at one point there are two levels of walkways for shoppers, and there is access to both the first and ground floor of many shops. There is a small area of covered mall at the western edge of the centre, constructed in 1995 housing retailers such as Waterstones and Sports Direct. The developer was Hammerson and they owned the centre until 2003 when they sold the leasehold to a private property company (Stockport Holdings Ltd) for the Jersey-based Halabi family trust. This was until 2009 when the centre was placed into the hands of receivers. It hosts around 95 retailers. Shops located within the centre include Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. More retail property surrounds the south and east of the centre including The Peel Centre and the towns' historic Market. It is open 9:00am ”“ 5:30pm Monday to Saturday and 10:00am ”“ 4:00pm on Sunday, however some outlets opening hours may vary. This is unlike other shopping destinations in Greater Manchester, such as the Trafford Centre, which are often open till late (8pm or 10pm) on a weekday. However in the run up to Christmas the centre opens till 8pm on a Wednesday evening. The centre and Stockport's shopping area attract about 14 million visitors per year, making it a popular shopping destination in the Greater Manchester Urban Area. Its catchment covers much of the affluent areas of North Cheshire and South Manchester, competing with other major retail destinations in the area such as Manchester City Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne and the Trafford Centre. The centre also hosts numerous events throughout the year, with a particular focus around Christmas to attract shoppers, every year the centre welcomes Santa and his reindeer and shoppers can watch the reindeer being fed with entertainment from Santa and music from various organisations. The centre's name Merseyway comes from the fact that the centre is built on giant stilts above the River Mersey and the river runs for the entire length of the centre. In 2001 there were plans to fit glass panels to the pavements within the centre to reveal the River Mersey underneath, this was a plan to try and boost tourism in the town as the river is entirely covered and hidden while it runs under the centre. However there has been no development of these plans.

In Administration
In February 2009, the centre was placed into the hands of receivers, the directors of GVA Grimley, due to the owners (Stockport Holdings Ltd), placing the centre into Administration. This statement appeared on the centre website on 16 February 2009; The Directors of GVA Grimley have stressed that the centre will continue to trade as normal and all retailers have been notified of the status, they have also said that in the current economic situation they will not seek to sell the centre, they will continue to run the centre and build upon its potential alongside the local authority and under current management DTZ.

The centre was opened in 1965, as one of the first shopping precincts in the United Kingdom, since then it has undergone considerable development. In 1995 it was extensively refurbished including the creation a new area of covered mall at the western edge of the centre facing onto Mersey Square.

There are around 95 tenants altogether in the centre, consisting of around 4 large department-type stores, which act as the principal anchors, alongside many more smaller stores containing generally specialist retailers. There are few independent traders in the centre as it contains the majority of national Chain Stores in Stockport town centre, there are independent traders located on the shopping streets immediately surrounding the Merseyway, such as Princes Street, The Underbanks and The Market Place. The more notable stores in the centre include; Westgate Department Stores, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Boots and HMV. There is a large former Woolworths store located in the centre which has remained vacant since that retailer went into administration and the store closed in January 2009. The Westgate Department Store, formerly known as The Chestergate Department store, (named for the street on which the original facade was located). It has always been under Co-operative ownership, being owned by various societies. It was rebranded as a Sunwin Department Store in the 1990s by then owners United Co-operatives, however in 2004 the society decided to sell their Sunwin Department Store business to Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, and the Stockport store along with the majority of the Sunwin Business were rebranded as Westgate Department Stores in 2005. To the immediate East of the centre are two of the town's main supermarkets, Sainsbury's and Asda, both having sizeable stores which is unusual for a town centre, a large Tesco Extra store is also located close by, on the opposite side of the M60 motorway. Retail Developments competing for similar tenants have sprung up around the centre since it was opened in 1965, these include The Peel Centre, The Courts Shopping Centre and the planned Bridgefield development. Additionally some of the more traditional shopping streets such as Hillgate play host to independent retailers due to lower rents, as well as a small collection of national chain stores. In July 2010, it was announced that the Westgate Department Store is to close in January 2011, with the store being sold to discount clothing store Primark. Conversion to Primark is expected to be complete sometime during early 2011. Also in July 2010, white hoarding appeared on the former Woolworths store, for conversion for another retailer. Later that month signs were erected on the Princes Street end of the shop stating that River Island was the client and who the contractors were. River Island has now been built and is open.

Transport links
The centre is easily accessible by car, from junctions 26, 27 or 1 of the M60 motorway, via the A6 from Manchester or Buxton. There is extensive parking at the centre with a multi-storey carpark spread over a large area, containing 835 spaces and 31 disabled spaces. Additionally there is much more parking surrounding the centre. The town's bus station is located directly opposite the western edge of the centre, and close to the bus station, up the hill is Stockport railway station, which is accessible via the A6 or via a walkway from the bus station to the railway station.

Future development
The area to the north of the centre may be developed over the next few years into another shopping centre, planned to contain more sizeable retail units to try and attract some of the larger stores into Stockport compared to the on average smaller units currently offered in the town centre by the Merseyway, this development is to be called Bridgefield. The initial developer was Australian Company, Lend Lease Corporation, who withdrew from the project in August 2008, throwing into doubt the whole of the town centre masterplan. But the council are still keen for another developer to take on the redevelopment scheme. If constructed and when completed it is expected that this development will directly compete with the Merseyway for similar tenants. It has the backing of the council as it is the largest part of the town centre masterplan; 'Future Stockport'. In 2004 the local council announced that they were drawing up plans to redevelop the centre in conjunction with the owner Stockport Holdings Ltd In April 2007 Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council announced plans for a £2.25million refurbishment of the centre's car park, involving a major cosmetic improvement and a possible increase in the number of spaces. In August 2008, Lend Lease Corporation announced their intention to withdraw from the Bridgefield Redevelopment project due to global economic conditions and a drop in profits for 2007, Lend Lease had originally been selected as preferred developer by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council in 2006 and had spent considerable amounts developing plans. This decision has thrown into doubt the large scale redevelopment of this area, and could mean the Merseyway will continue to be the prime retail site in Stockport for considerable time, but may be redeveloped to provide more retail space.