£1.2m facelift for struggling Rochdale high street

Transformation set for Drake Street, Rochdale

More than £1.2m is being pumped into parts of Rochdale that were once the town’s main shopping area.

The facelift will focus on South Parade, lower Drake Street, Butts Avenue and Bull Brow, areas of the town centre that have been struggling for years.

On South Parade and Lower Drake Street, more traditional shop fronts will be reintroduced to better reflect the historic character of the buildings, some of which date back to the early 19th century.

Vital roof repairs will take place, while original sash windows will also be repaired or replaced. Heritage building techniques and materials will be used wherever possible, with Welsh slate and yorkstone being used on the roofs.

Over on Bull Brow and Butts Avenue, major changes include property improvements and repairs and the installation of planters and benches, including outdoor seating for La Mancha Tapas restaurant and Vicolo Del Vino wine bar. Festoon lighting will decorate the area, which will also benefit from improved paving and decorative screens.

The new street furniture will incorporate symbols of bulls in a nod to the area’s name, which is believed to originate from the annual bull baiting festival which took place in the River Roch.

The plans are part of Rochdale’s Heritage Action Zone project.

For much of the 19th and 20th Century Drake Street was Rochdale’s main shopping area.

But over the last 30-40 years many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair as most of Rochdale’s large shops moved first to the area around Yorkshire Street and latterly to the new Riverside development.

Councillor John Blundell said: “These particular schemes will really complement the reopened river and other historic buildings nearby, including the old RBS building, which is now a brand new Hogarth’s pub, and the old Wellington Hotel, which is now Bombay Brew restaurant.

“And not forgetting our magnificent grade I listed town hall, just a stone’s throw from the site, which is currently undergoing a multi-million pound restoration.

“I’m particularly pleased that these projects are coming together now. It means that shoppers and visitors will be returning to an even better town centre, after what’s been a torrid year for our high streets. The new outdoor eating will also hopefully give the businesses in this area an extra boost.”