Town centre transformation takes major step forward
The next phase in the transformation of Rochdale town centre’s shopping and leisure offer is underway following Rochdale Borough Council’s decision to approve the terms of a development agreement with Genr8.
Genr8/Kajima are already the council’s nominated development partner and the signing of the agreement will enable the developer to actively progress plans for a comprehensive development in the town centre.
The plans are for around 300,000 square feet of mixed shopping and leisure uses. The development scheme extends the existing centre down to meet the new Metrolink and bus interchange, creating a pedestrian-friendly gateway into the town centre from the river. A traffic-free Baillie Street would form a key part of the proposed scheme and a new entrance into the Wheatsheaf Centre from Baillie Street would replace the overhead walkways.
Councillor Peter Williams, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Customer Services, said: “Anyone who has been to the town centre recently can’t fail to notice how much is already happening, but this is a really important milestone on the way to improving it further. We will inevitably face many challenges along the way but we are determined to do everything we can to make Rochdale a successful and vibrant town centre.”
Following the opening of Number One Riverside, containing the new library, customer access centre and council offices early next year and the completion of the new bus interchange in autumn 2013, attention will focus on the demolition of the Municipal Offices, Telegraph House, the existing bus station and multi-storey car park late next year, creating what will be a prime redevelopment site.
Meanwhile Genr8 and their funding partner Kajima will be progressing their discussions with prospective retail and leisure occupiers and working towards the submission of the necessary planning applications.
Mike Smith, Genr8’s Development Director, said: “We are really pleased to be in a position to formalise our already excellent working relationship with Rochdale Council and Rochdale Development Agency. The council has made great progress in regenerating Rochdale town centre and we look forward to delivering a development that will help to transform the overall retail offer.”
John Hudson, Chief Executive of RDA, added: “The £250 million transformation of the town centre is well underway. Few other town centres in the region are witnessing such levels of physical change and new investment. We need to continue to create the conditions for promoting a new development scheme in the heart of the town centre that helps transform our retail and family leisure offer. It is a development that will make the town centre a popular and distinctive destination and a place where people want to shop and spend their leisure time.”
Greg Couzens, Vice-Chairman of the Rochdale Borough High Street Foundation, said: “This is fantastic news and shows that the council is continuing to invest in the borough’s future. It’s so easy to forget the really positive changes that have been taking place in the borough and in Rochdale town centre in recent years. There is the wonderful new Sixth Form College and refurbished Hopwood Hall College next door, the new Leisure Centre and the recently refurbished Pioneers Museum to name just a few.
“Let’s start celebrating what we have already achieved by working together and be positive about what we can continue to achieve in the future.”
It is expected that the development agreement will be formally signed by the Council and Genr8/Kajima before the end of December.