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New homes help breathe new life into historic town centre building

08 March 2018

Councillors at building site. ​​​7 new apartments are being created in a grade 2 listed property in Rochdale, in a move which the council hopes will help kickstart a housing boom in the town centre.

The 7 1-bedroom homes are being constructed on the upper floors of 2 Smith Street, above the Wellington pub, which was built in the 1760s as a mill owner’s property, before being used as a coaching inn during the Victorian period. It was recently re-opened as a gastro pub. The section at 2 Smith Street was added as an extension in the 1950s.

'Developers Millerbrook have spent more than £1.6m renovating the building'

Developers Millerbrook Properties, who own the building, have spent more than £1.6 million renovating it and received a listed building grant from the council to help fund the creation of the apartments.

The properties, which are expected to be complete in summer 2018, will be available for private rent and will help kickstart the regeneration of Drake Street and the surrounding area, which was recently named a Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) by Historic England.

'Drake Street will benefit from almost £1.5m of investment in the next 12 months'

Heritage Action Zone status means that the council could be in line for a £500,000 grant from Historic England as part of a five year action plan, starting in May 2018, to bring the area’s historic buildings back into use. The council, which has already committed almost £1 million from its capital programme to help regenerate Drake Street, will also benefit from specialist support and advice from Historic England for the duration of the project.

Richard Ward, from Millerbrook Properties, said: “A year ago, this entire building, which was an important historical site in the centre of Rochdale, was completely empty. Now we have a thriving gastro pub, Marnie’s hairdressers and, by the summer, we will have 7 new apartments here, the first private residential development in Rochdale for a number of years.

“These apartments will cost less than half what someone would pay to live in Manchester city centre, yet you’re so close to the transport links, you could be in the city centre in less than half an hour, as well as enjoying all the new restaurants and shops which will be built on your doorstep as part of the Rochdale Riverside development. As this regeneration continues, other developers will sit up and take notice and the private sector investment will continue to pour in. If these apartments prove popular, we will look at trying to create a housing development on the former Iveson’s site in Drake Street, which we also own.”

‘This development will help us breathe new life into the town centre and tackle the housing shortage’

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “By working with the private sector and giving support where we can, we are creating the conditions for investment to pour in and breathe new life into our town centres.

“This development not only brings part of an important historic building back into use, it also supports the next phase of regeneration in Rochdale town centre, which will focus on creating good quality housing around the new developments and shops. This, combined with plans to create new housing at College Bank, Falinge and along Drake Street and its surrounding areas, will also help us address the acute housing shortage which councils up and down the country are facing.”