Reporter: Pete Hinchliffe
Date online: 15 November 2012
The cover of the Draft Rochdale Town Centre East Area Framework from 2008
Liberal Democrat Councillor Dale Mulgrew, Shadow Economic Affairs Portfolio-Holder, has urged senior councillors to identify the ‘big name’ retailers who, it is claimed, have signed up to move into the planned £150 million Town Centre East shopping centre.
Earlier this month, Councillor Farooq Ahamed, portfolio-holder for finance announced the news but did not identify any specific companies involved.
On 9 November, Cllr Mulgrew wrote to Deputy Council Leader Peter Williams asking him to state who the retailers were, what time-scale RMBC were working on for these to be fully committed to the project and how confident they were that this would enable the project to make progress following the demolition of the ‘Black Box’ next year.
Cllr Mulgrew said that existing traders and the people of Rochdale needed “clarity” on the issue in order “to be confident the Town centre of Rochdale is heading in the right direction.”
Cllr Mulgrew expressed disappointment that he has yet to receive a response from Cllr Williams or Council Leader Colin Lambert. He told us: “I have had no reply to the questions which I raised with Cllr Peter Williams or Cllr Colin Lambert around Town Centre East. This is disappointing given that next week the Cabinet will be asked to approve a formal development agreement with the preferred developer.
"The failure of the Council's Leadership to answer some simple questions on progress with the crucial Town Centre East regeneration plan, in spite of recent announcements to the contrary, says to me they are all over the place on this subject. Yet next week the same Council Leadership will be signing up to a formal development agreement for the Town Centre East project with the Council's preferred developer.
“Who signs up to a house building offer for a specified location on the prospect that one day there could be the chance of a house being built at some point in the future?
“My group wants this critical project to be delivered to help revive the town centre's fortunes. But progress has been stagnating for a couple of years and our confidence and that of local traders, along with the Rochdale public, is only ebbing away at the prospect of just more of the same.
“We want to offer the council leadership the chance to throw partisan politics to one side and we would be happy to take part in an all party steering group on Town Centre East. This is a critical time for the town centre and we don't want to waste this once in a generation opportunity.”