Rochdale town centre (© Journeaux)

Rochdale town centre (© Journeaux)

Rochdale awarded Heritage Action Zone status to revive its historic heart

Rochdale town centre is in line for a grant as Historic England has confirmed the town as one of eight ‘Heritage Action Zones’ across the country.

Specialists from Historic England will work with the council to help form an action plan for the area, with the money set to be granted if the action plan is approved by Historic England.

Subject to approval, the Heritage Action Zone will begin in May 2018 and run for five years, to help regenerate the area. The council has also pledged £1m in funding to support the project. 

The Drake Street area is set to be at the heart of Rochdale’s Heritage Action Zone (HAZ). 

The HAZ also includes the Town Centre Conservation Area, with the aim of the project being to take the town centre off Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register by looking at various options to try and bring some of its key historic buildings back to life for residential or business use.

The Heritage Action Zone will see the council working with Historic England and its partners to explore how historic properties can be converted for residential use. Work will also see the team explore potential new uses for other well-known local buildings.

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: "Our heritage not only tells the story of our past, it creates great places to live, work and visit. The Heritage Action Zone scheme will make the most out of Rochdale’s historic environment to kick-start regeneration, increase tourism and boost investment in our towns and cities.” 

Catherine Dewar, Planning Director for Historic England in the North West, said: “Rochdale has so much to be proud of, from its Cooperative Heritage to its Town Hall. However, some of its historic buildings are showing signs of neglect, but with a little investment and imagination they can become assets for the people of Rochdale to enjoy and for the town’s economy.

"We are looking forward to working with Rochdale Council to increase awareness of what Rochdale has to offer and to make it easy for investors and developers to bring jobs, homes and visitors here.” 

Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Drake Street is full of fantastic historic buildings, a number of which have a co-operative connection that has been lost. Unfortunately, despite it being a really important gateway into the town centre, it has lost its way in recent years, as the retail core has moved. 

“That is why the support that Historic England has announced is so important. It is the first step towards the revival of this incredibly important area. With stage one Heritage Lottery funding already approved for the new Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum in Maclure Road and other fantastic assets like Town Hall Square also in the Heritage Action Zone, this is an opportunity to build on work we have already started in these areas and create a fantastic link between these important heritage assets.”