The revival of one of Rochdale's most famous historic shopping streets has moved a step closer, following the official launch of the Heritage Action Zone project in the town centre.
The project will see Historic England work with us to redevelop Drake Street and its surrounding areas over a 5-year period.
Plans include the creation of 220 new homes in and around Drake Street
Major plans include the creation of 200 new homes and the renovation of a number of historic buildings in the area, to bring them off Historic England's At Risk Register.
We're also looking to create a heritage trail to tell the story of the historic buildings in the area, many of which are linked to the co-operative movement, and better link the railway station with the town centre.
We'll launch co-operative enterprise in the old Butterworth jewellers site soon
Since Rochdale was named one of just 8 Historic Action Zones in the country late last year, we've progressed plans to buy the former Butterworth jewellers building at 14 Drake Street and is working with the Co-operative College to turn it into a space from which young people can set up and run co-operative enterprises. A grant scheme will also be launched soon to help renovate a number of the historic buildings.
As well as £500,000 cash from Historic England, we'll be given free specialist support throughout the project, with a delegation of experts, including landscape architects and urban planners, due to visit the area later this month.
Heritage Action Zone work complements a project to redevelop the town hall following a successful lottery bid
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: "We are lucky enough to have some spectacular heritage buildings here in Rochdale, so no plan to regenerate our town centre would be complete without major investment in these important assets.
"I'm really proud to say that since we achieved Heritage Action Zone status, we've already had a major boost, with grant one funding approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the redevelopment of the town hall, so we're already well on our way to bringing our fabulous heritage to life as part of a regenerated and transformed town centre."
Catherine Dewar, Planning Director for Historic England North West, said: "We're delighted to be working with Rochdale. It has such fantastic historic buildings and spaces and we want to work together to make the most of its heritage. We have a great opportunity to work with other organisations and the community in partnership, continuing the fascinating history of cooperation in the town."
Liz McIvor, from the Co-operative College, said: "Co-operatives are popular around the world, but we need to ensure that their influence remains strong here in Rochdale, because this is where it all started.
"By celebrating this international movement and its Rochdale roots, we will help restore a sense of place, a sense of something great having gone before and something great still to come."
We'll invest £25m in regeneration in the town centre over the next 5 years
£250m has already been invested in the core town centre area since 2011 and the next phase of regeneration, spearheaded by the council and RDA, will focus on reviving key gateway areas, including Drake Street, and delivering major improvements to the public realm and heritage offer, as well as delivering around 2000 new homes across the wider town centre.
We've already contributed £1.6M from our capital programme to the Heritage Action Zone project, as part of the £25M sum which we and our partners will plough into heritage in Rochdale town centre over the next 5 years.
Rochdale is only the 2nd North West site to achieve Heritage Action Zone status, after Appleby in Cumbria was selected when the 1st round of Historic Action Zones were announced in 2016.