Atom Valley plans given green light by Greater Manchester leaders

Date published: 03 August 2022

Proposals for a new Mayoral Development Zone (MDZ) across Rochdale, Bury and Oldham – dubbed ‘Atom Valley’ have been given the green light by Greater Manchester leaders.

The zone is focused on three sites which bosses say have the potential to accommodate 1.6m sq m of new employment space, create around 20,000 jobs and deliver 7,000 new homes.

These include the Northern Gateway (which straddles Bury and Rochdale near the M66 and M62). Kingsway Business Park in Rochdale, and Stakehill in Rochdale and Oldham.

All of this will be linked to improved sustainable transport links as part of the Bee Network, including options for delivering Metrolink to the centre of Middleton.

The decision to designate Atom Valley as an MDZ means that work between public and private sector partners and national agencies can be better aligned, as part of a coordinated strategy for guiding development and unlocking investment.

A new MDZ board will now be set up to coordinate the project, set to be chaired by leading economist Paul Ormerod, who was born and brought up in Rochdale and is also chair of Rochdale Development Agency, with representatives from local and national authorities, central government, and the private sector.

The ambition is to create a hub for innovation in advanced materials, manufacturing, and green technologies, with world-leading facilities and opportunities for local residents to access good jobs, training, and skills.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “This decision is a green light for our plans to transform the economy of our city-region and rebalance the scales of growth and opportunity.

“Our priority has always been to deliver inclusive growth that benefits all of our people and places. Atom Valley will offer world-class facilities for research and innovation, powering the skills and jobs needed to drive a new industrial revolution in advanced manufacturing and green technologies. It will also be the catalyst for revitalising town centres in the north east of the city-region, with new transport links integrated into our Bee Network - and as part of this we’re looking at all options to deliver Metrolink right into the centre of Middleton.

“While the future of the national levelling up agenda hangs in the balance, we’re getting on with our vision for a Greater Manchester that delivers good jobs, good homes, and better opportunities for everyone.”

It is hoped that the combined impact of the Atom Valley MDZ will transform economic growth and industrial innovation in Greater Manchester. It’s one of six priority growth locations identified as part of the Greater Manchester Strategy, with the aim of delivering a greener, fairer, more prosperous city-region.


Councillor Neil Emmott, Leader of Rochdale Council
Councillor Neil Emmott, Leader of Rochdale Council


Councillor Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We are now going to be able to work towards giving new opportunities in employment for the residents of the borough, improving their life chances with high-quality, high-skilled jobs with a focus on advanced machinery.

“Our residents will be able to focus on apprenticeships such as in advanced technology and be able to study for T-levels where they can undertake 45-day directly relevant work experience as part of obtaining their qualification.

“This will prepare residents of all ages for the jobs that will be delivered in Atom Valley so they can enjoy working where they live.

“These new jobs link directly with the need for improved transport infrastructure and strengthen the case for delivering better connectivity such as Metrolink to Middleton and passenger train services into Heywood for the first time since 1969.”

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