An ambitious new vision to deliver the Oldham town centre of the future is set to go to public consultation before being marketed to potential development partners.
Oldham Council has been developing a masterplan looking ahead to 2035 with key schemes across five strategic town centre sites totalling 21 acres. The benefits would be the provision of new homes, 55,000 sq metres of new and refurbished employment space, and economic activity worth an additional £50m per annum to Oldham’s economy.
To see a PDF of the master plan click here.
The masterplan seeks to remodel Oldham town centre to match the local authority’s aspirations for it to be a vibrant place with high-quality attractions, an excellent cultural and shopping offer and a night-time economy that make it stand out as a destination within Greater Manchester. Key to that is transforming the area into a thriving place where more residents want to live and spend leisure time. This is to be supported by housing and schools better reflecting communities’ needs and producing high-skilled residents working in a stronger local economy where businesses want to invest. If every masterplan element is delivered it could be worth an estimated 560 full-time jobs during construction, plus up to 700 new operational jobs in Oldham.
The plan is the first step towards creating a town centre that works better and is aspirational for everyone – from residents to families, public sector partners and businesses/traders of all sizes. A priority proposal in this plan is to deliver a new Tommyfield Market on the existing site with 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 is also proposed 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 go at the current Rock Street car park site and the surrounding area. Subject to Cabinet approval on July 10, work would begin to present these opportunities to market and share risks/costs with the private sector.
The masterplan identifies a large number of publicly-owned sites that are under-used or no longer fit for purpose. These include Tommyfield Market, the Civic Centre, Oldham Police Station, the former Oldham Sports Centre and Oldham Magistrates Court, and the current Oldham Coliseum Theatre. Existing movement and footfall in Oldham town centre has been analysed and anticipated future pressures on housing, school places, public services and infrastructure are also factored in.
Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is the biggest forward planning exercise we’ve ever had for Oldham town centre – it’s exciting and it’s about the kind of place we want it to be in the future. 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 – but we cannot make the mistake of standing still.
“This 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. We have the opportunity to do what other local authorities have done and look to share assets and cut costs with public sector partners to benefit everyone.
“We also have a fantastic opportunity to attract private sector development partners into a joint venture to deliver this scheme, or specific elements of it, and we’re confident this will be attractive to them. It is one of the biggest and most ambitious town centre schemes in Greater Manchester. Due to the amount of land that is publicly owned, there are relatively few issues around site assembly, and these plans can deliver a return on our investment back to the public purse. When consultation gets underway I would urge everyone to do your bit, get involved and give us your views and ideas. We all have a stake in Oldham town centre’s future and this is a fantastic opportunity transform its prospects over the next two decades.”
Subject to Cabinet approval, Oldham Council would take this opportunity to market by the end of 2017 with a view to appointing a preferred delivery partner(s) by summer 2018.