The schemes that could change the face of Rochdale in 2021 and beyond
Date published: 27 December 2020
Proposed Bright Hall at Rochdale Town Hall
With the region’s long-term development plan hitting the rocks and Covid casting a long shadow over the economy, Greater Manchester’s future has rarely looked so uncertain.
Yet Rochdale council bosses remain bullish about their vision for the borough – insisting they will push ahead with the ‘growth agenda’ they say is vital for its prosperity.
Since Stockport’s voted to drop out of the doomed ‘spatial framework’ masterplan, Rochdale and the other eight boroughs have pledged to draw up a revised joint strategy – dubbed the ‘plan of the nine’ in some quarters.
While that is likely to take some time to emerge, it doesn’t mean things have come to a halt in Rochdale.
Below are some of the major schemes that could change the face of the borough over the next 12 months and beyond.
Vacant land at Central Retail Park could be transformed into a ‘thriving community’ boasting 200 homes, a park and a gym.
The site – on the fringes of the town centre – is the first to be brought forward under the council’s ‘rail corridor’ masterplan, which aims to build 7,000 homes around the borough’s train stations.
Proposals also include a running track, gym and community hub alongside community space such as café-bars and delis.
Developer Capital and Centric describes the scheme as ‘bridging the gap between urban and suburban living’.
A planning application is expected early next year.
Riverside Phase 2
Full plans have been submitted for the next phase of the flagship Riverside regeneration project – which has already brought a new shopping centre, cinema and mini golf complex to the heart of the town.
The detailed application includes proposals for 240 apartments across two nine-store blocks, said to offer ‘city centre’ style living at ‘affordable rents’.
There are also plans for a seven-storey hotel boasting 147-rooms at the site next to the existing Riverside development.
A further 400 sqm of office space could be approved, provided an occupier can be signed up.
Preparation work has already begun at the site, with construction expected to get underway next year.
Town hall revamp
The £16m revamp of Rochdale’s stunning Grade I listed town hall is set to continue throughout 2021.
The 149-year-old building is set for a huge overhaul, which will ultimately open it up to more people than ever before.
Plans for the ‘neo-gothic masterpiece’ include restoring the Magna Carta mural and ornate ceiling panels in the Great Hall, as well as historic rooms such as the Mayor’s Parlour.
The project will bring neglected parts of the building into public use for the first time in many years, with a new Bright Hall being created in the old library.
The area around the town hall is also set to be redeveloped. A new public square will host events as well as providing a ‘stunning open area’ for people to relax in.
The town hall is scheduled to reopen to the public in 2023.
Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI)
Plans to create an Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) in Rochdale were brought a step closer after being included in a UK-wide list of 17 projects.
Partners including Rochdale Development Agency, and Milnrow-based PTG Holroyd Precision have secured £50,000 early-stage funding through the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund (SIPF).
The AMPI is seen as a potential catalyst for an innovation district which could be located at Kingsway Business Park
It would drive innovation for the UK’s advanced machinery manufacturers and generate around 660 new direct jobs and 530 indirect jobs across the region.
Former Carcraft site
More than 100 new homes could be built on the former Carcraft site in Castleton.
An application for 102 three and four-bedroom properties has been submitted by Hive Homes – a joint venture between the combined authority and 10 leading housing providers.
Proposals for the former Nixon Street showroom also set aside land for a 420-place primary school.
Like Neighbourhood Rochdale, the £17.5m scheme forms a key part of the council’s rail corridor strategy, which seeks to use the transport links as a catalyst for economic investment.
If approved, work on the site is set to start early next year. The homes are expected to be available for private sale in 2022.
Junction 19 link road/South Heywood development
Work on a £2.2m link road connecting Junction 19 of the M62 with the industrial parks off Pilsworth Road is expected to complete in the spring.
Back in August it was announced that the scheme was to receive £10m from the government’s Get Building Fund for ‘shovel ready projects’.
The immediate benefit will be to reroute HGV traffic away from Heywood, Birch and Bowlee by providing a new direct access from the motorway network to the Heywood employment area.
But in the longer term it is expected to pave the way for the huge South Heywood development – creating 1,000 new homes, a new primary school, and more than 135,000 square metres of business space.
The council has granted outline planning permission for the scheme, but there is still fierce opposition from green belt campaigners.
Drake Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ)
For much of the 19th and 20th century, Drake Street was Rochdale’s main shopping area – but many of its buildings have fallen into disrepair over recent decades.
Hope its fortunes could be reversed were given a boost in 2018, when Rochdale became the only area in the North West to be granted Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) status.
Now a dozen historic buildings on the corner of Drake Street and South Parade – some more than 200 years-old – are to be renovated as part of the £500,000 project to breathe new life into the town centre.
Those lined up for a makeover include takeaways, a mini-market, an estate agents and a food bank.
Planning permission for the scheme was granted in September and work is expected to start in the new year.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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