Whilst the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework undergoes a further rewrite (frustrating some in the development community and planners alike), Rochdale Council has quietly continued to set out an exciting programme of change. And it is ambitious. Ahead of GM Mayor Andy Burham’s Town Centre Challenge, it has set out its stall to be a pro-growth and dynamic place. Just read the Council Leader’s blog and you’ll understand.
Rochdale’s award winning flagship offices at Number 1, Riverside is a shining example of what can be achieved. The Council’s offices include a café, library and resources centre at ground level, set in a light an airy atrium. It brings the Council and community together under one roof. Student ideas for local regeneration projects are displayed, illustrating opportunities for change along the industrialise canal corridor. It is from this hub that Rochdale is spearheading its programme of change. The recent huge intake of apprenticeships into the Council (26 new roles), the October literary festival and monthly artisan market are good examples of how this Council wants to change the community for the better.
Rochdale is pro-growth. It aims to deliver over 12,000 new homes and has major regeneration projects underway, working alongside other public sector bodies and housing associations. Hopwood Hall Academy offers a growing range of vocational courses with two campus locations at Middleton and in Rochdale town centre. Boasting a growing alumni and impressive sports facilities, it is delivering on improving skills for its students and community alike.
Against all the odds and challenges of the retail market, the town centre is also being reborn. Rochdale Riverside is a £250m project led by the Council and Genr8, located in the heart of the town centre and next to Number 1 Riverside. The mix of high street retailers and leisure operators is similar to those found in other town centres, but the Council’s vision has enabled fantastic new public transport to be integrated right into the town centre in the form of the new bus station and extension to the Metrolink. This provides all the right ingredients to increase footfall and recover expenditure lost to other centres, bringing people back into Rochdale. With house price inflation to the south of Manchester pricing many people out of Disbury, Chorlton and Altrincham, Rochdale has put in place a strategy offering a real alternative, all within an easy commute of Manchester City Centre.
Oh and while Rochdale Riverside’s new retail quarter opens in Easter 2020, the town will be flocked by those coming to see the Council’s biggest coup of the year…. Dippy the Diplodocus, the Natural History Museum’s famous Dinosaur, will be on display in the Council’s offices from February to June 2020, one of only eight places in Dippy’s UK tour. Don’t miss it. Rochdale is certainly one to watch.
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