Regeneration boost as Oldham secures £24.4m Towns Fund investment

Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre

Four exciting projects are set to transform Oldham town centre after the borough was awarded £24.4m from the Government’s Towns Fund.

The funding will accelerate change across Oldham with a focus on sustainability – placing green recovery and clean growth at the heart of town centre regeneration.

Cllr Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council and cabinet member for economic and social reform, said: “As Oldhamers we know our town has fantastic potential, and we are pleased that the Government have endorsed our vision for the town centre.

“Oldham bid for a competitive £41m for five ambitious projects that will make the town centre a place that mixes retail, work, homes and leisure, and will help establish Oldham as the greenest borough in Greater Manchester. Securing funding for four out of five is a great result.

“We will now look at alternative routes to delivering the fifth project – a Minewater Heat Network which could convert water from flooded coal mines into energy to create an environmentally-friendly power source for the town centre.

“The Town Deal Board has worked incredibly hard and we are grateful for its achievements which will make a tangible difference to places and people across the borough.

“These projects will not only boost regeneration, they will also create much needed jobs, apprenticeships, training and opportunities to support our recovery from the pandemic as sustainably as possible.”

The projects which are being supported by the Towns Fund are:

  • Northern Roots: This project will create the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park, providing 160 acres of high quality greenspace for community use
  • Relocating Tommyfield Market: Supporting the relocation of the market into a new, purpose-built facility in Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre
  • Flexible Workspace: The purchase of Spindles Shopping Centre by Oldham Council creates an opportunity for the space to be repurposed and additional office space for enterprise development to be introduced at the heart of the town centre and in what will become a multi-use building
  • Making Space – For Live Performance: Offers the opportunity to re-use existing listed buildings in the wider cultural quarter. The development will be based within a redeveloped Old Post Office and former Quaker Meeting House at 84 Union Street and aspires to be a net-zero carbon enterprise. It will expand the existing performing arts offer in terms of scope, scale and quality and increase provision for participatory activities

In keeping with Oldham Council’s sustainability ambitions, most of the projects will be re-using and re-purposing existing buildings, rather than building new, thereby minimising the carbon footprint of redevelopment.

The Town Deal Board meets regularly – meeting virtually during the coronavirus pandemic – to develop Oldham’s Town Investment Plan. It brings together a very diverse range of key stakeholders and perspectives who will now develop detailed business plans for each project.

The Towns Fund is a £3.6bn government fund to boost local economies, create jobs and help towns build back better from the pandemic.

Oldham was selected to submit a bid along with 100 other towns which have a proud industrial and economic heritage but have not always benefited from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.

The £24.4m Towns Fund funding follows Oldham’s successful bid for £10.7m from the Future High Streets Fund, which will support other regeneration projects including making the town centre more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists, the launch of a food hall in the Old Town Hall’s Egyptian Room and a new business hub for digital start-ups.

Peter Holbrook, chair of Oldham Town Deal Board and chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “We’re delighted to have received this funding which will realise the ambition for change in Oldham.

“The Town Deal Board is made up of private and public sector partners who all share a combined vision for Oldham to be a town where business and enterprise can thrive and where people want to live, visit, relax and work. The projects within our bid will help us to deliver that shared goal.”

He added: “My thanks go to the board and everyone who has played their part in securing this important funding for the borough. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring the projects to life and help Oldham realise its potential.”

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