Next week sees the beginning of MIPIM 2019 in Cannes, the property event of the year in which representatives from towns and cities across the globe come together to share investment news, gain kudos from their peers and grow their business network.
This year, the Greater Manchester delegation have a myriad of focus points to cover over the five-day event, from carbon footprints to ‘smart growth’ areas, however in this journal we’re going to take a look at the Wednesday afternoon panel discussion – “Looking to the future: keep our town centres alive”.
Rochdale is currently one of the most growth-focused town centres in the Greater Manchester, and in many ways Rochdale is not only being ‘kept alive’, but kept thriving. Here’s how.
Building our future
First and foremost, both because we’re biased and because it’s the largest development project happening in Rochdale right now, is Rochdale Riverside. Our £80m retail and leisure development is already well underway thanks to Developers Gener8, Partners Kajima, and Contractors Willmott Dixon.
As part of our development we’ve already got some huge retailers signed up to take space, including M&S, River Island, Boots, JD Sports and Next. On an entertainment front, we have the wonderful Reel Cinemas taking a huge space in the South side of the development.
Due for completion in Spring 2020, the next chapter for entertainment in Rochdale is not far off.
On a more commercial front we have the Kingsway Business Park, made up of a 75,000 sq ft distribution centre and trade counter, a facility of the same size for an international logistics company, as well as some huge household names including Asda, E.ON and Takeuchi Manufacturing. These massive industrial areas will create more jobs for the region, improve the economy and help really secure Rochdale’s place on the map.
We have projects on a smaller scale occurring across the borough as well that are doing their bit to keep the town centre alive, including weekly markets from local traders which perform incredibly well and keep the streets occupied, and an artisanal market that will be coming to town once every four weeks, boasting some of the best food and drink producers in the north west!
Reinvigorating our past
As important as it is to focus on the town’s future, it’s of equal importance to remember its history. A town of deep culture, Rochdale is bordered by iconic architecture and heritage assets, and over the years have been somewhat left to decline. But that’s all about to change!
Rochdale Town Hall – the borough’s ‘jewel in the crown’ – is a stunning Gothic-revival style town hall and it’s been given an incredible £16 million investment fund to bring it back to its former glory. Due for completion in 2023, the redevelopment will restore the famous landmark’s historic features, including the magna carta mural and ceiling panels in the great hall and its extensive stained-glass windows.
Similarly, Drake Street in Rochdale is the only area in the North West that’s been granted Heritage Action Zone status. The project is set to bring a number of its historic buildings back into use as either housing or business locations.
It’s initiatives like this that are helping to keep the town centres alive – it’s not about changing the heart of the town, it’s taking what’s great about the area and improving it, altering its use to fit contemporary society or thoughtfully restoring it to its former glory.