Oldham town centre regeneration plans move forward

A public consultation for the regeneration of Oldham town centre has been approved.

The consultation on 21 acres of Oldham town centre, ahead of a formal tender to find a development partner, was agreed at an Oldham Council cabinet meeting earlier this week.

A new masterplan has been prepared for the redevelopment by Leach Rhodes Walker in collaboration with the Council, representing one of the biggest and most ambitious town centre schemes in Greater Manchester.

The masterplan covers five co-located town centre sites, 95% of which are in the ownership of Oldham Council. The proposals complement the recently agreed Cultural Quarter programme in Oldham, and bring forward up to 592,034 sq ft of new and refurbished employment space, a new multi-tenure and type town centre residential strategy, retail, leisure, hotel, a multi-agency civic hub and car parking.

The town centre benefits from three Metrolink stations and two bus stations within minutes of the proposed site area.

Oldham Council said it will look to find a 50/50 joint venture partner on a profit share basis, and is “open to considering other structures and funding options”. The Council said it would be prepared to make land, capital and lease covenant commitments to aid delivery of the overall development.

Following the consultation process, it is anticipated that an OJEU notice would be triggered late autumn 2017 with selection of a preferred partner in late summer 2018. The development delivery period will be ten to 15 years with an anticipated start on site in spring 2019.

The redevelopment of the town centre would be worth additional £50m a year to Oldham’s economy, the Council said. The running costs of existing facilities occupied by public sector services in Oldham would equate £87m over the next ten years.  It is envisaged that public sector operational costs will be significantly reduced in the process of creating a new civic hub.

The construction period will yield an estimated 560 full time jobs and more generally up to 700 new operational jobs will be created at the end of the development period.

Elements of the scheme are:

A new Tommyfield Market on the existing site and a new 600-capacity multi-storey car park adjacent to attract additional footfall, plus complementary new retail/leisure units and quality public spaces.

A new civic hub using land including the former Oldham Sports Centre to host a multi-agency public sector centre providing more effective accommodation and cost sharing, plus new commercial office space.

The current Civic Centre, Magistrates Court and Oldham Police Station sites could be the location for a refurbished QE Hall with a new hotel, plus offices and homes.

Additional homes could be located at the current Rock Street car park site and the surrounding area.

Cllr Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: “Many positive regeneration schemes are already improving our town centre like the Old Town Hall, the Cultural Quarter with a new Coliseum Theatre, and the Independent Quarter and this proposal builds on that legacy.

“This is one of the biggest and most ambitious town centre schemes in Greater Manchester.  It is about agreeing the type of place we want Oldham to be and having a clear plan to achieve it. The plan will be shaped and refined further as residents, partners, business and traders have their say in extensive consultation over the coming year.

“The plan looks to improve connections in and between different sites so that footfall and movement works better. It also strives to increase town centre resident, visitor and user numbers to make it a place that thrives round the clock.”

The masterplan has been put together within the framework and considerations of the Local Plan, and the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

There is also potential for grant availability through the £300m Greater Manchester Housing Investment Fund and £6m town centre Growth Fund III. The civic hub is likely to be delivered under the One Public Estate (OPE) initiative.