Arts graduates will be showcasing their wares in Stockport Market Place, as part of the town centre’s Portas Pilot.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is taking over the lease to Council-owned buildings 18 and 19 Market Place, to offer exhibition space and business incubation facilities to graduates in architecture, art and design.

MMU will refit the buildings to provide a gallery space and a ‘shop front’ on the ground floor for graduates to exhibit their products and give customers the opportunity to buy them.

The upper floors will be transformed into incubation facilities to give start-up creative businesses, such as architects and artists, affordable and practical premises in which to develop and grow.

Councillor Iain Roberts, Executive Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at Stockport Council, said: “As part of Stockport’s Portas Pilot, we’re working with all kinds of different partners to bring new and unique projects to the town centre.

“This innovative scheme will not only support small businesses, but attract all different types of people to the town centre. This will drive footfall, bring a bit of a buzz to the area and get people talking about Stockport. I’m really interested to see how this project develops and grows – it will definitely bring something a bit special to the Market Place.”

Professor Tom Jefferies, Head of the Manchester School of Architecture at MMU, added: “This project is one-of-a-kind and is a real opportunity to work with Stockport to offer something completely different.

“With this project we are bringing creative industries to the high street. We will develop a creative hub which will really involve and interest both local people and visitors. We see this as a new space for creative practice in Stockport and part of our wider commitment to keeping design talent in the region.”

MMU will begin the refurbishment works over the summer and the project will be up and running later this year.