Ashton Mayoral Development Zone ready for take-off
Improving health, tackling deprivation, and boosting productivity across three locations are among the ambitions Tameside Council’s AMDZ will aim to achieve.
Tameside Council’s executive cabinet will meet this week to formally establish the creation of the Mayoral Development Zone, which incorporates Ashton town centre, the St Petersfield district, and Ashton Moss.
Collectively, these three areas are known as the Ashton Growth Corridor – development and regeneration within the corridor will be guided by the overarching aims of the MDZ going forward.
The idea behind the creation of the zone is underpinned by the aims of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to “rebalance the GM economy by accelerating the economic growth and competitiveness across the northern areas,” according to a report to Tameside’s cabinet.
“A number of GM local authority areas, including Tameside, perform significantly worse overall than the regional centre and southern areas and this is forecast to continue to worsen unless there are co-ordinated interventions to address this”, the report adds.
The idea of the Ashton MDZ – described as a “clear mechanism to align public and private sector investment” – was first announced in February 2022, when the council said it wanted to adopt a joined-up approach to development.
Some work in the three areas is already underway. Tameside Council was awarded almost £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund in 2021 to revamp Ashton town centre; plans for an upgraded market square were approved last month.
Meanwhile, Ashton Moss is earmarked for a 1.7m sq ft employment site under the Places for Everyone joint plan.
In St Petersfield, the council has signed off a masterplan – drawn up by LDA Design, CBRE, Curtins, Partisan and Todd Architects – that could see a £100m mixed-use scheme delivered.
The council is now actively seeking a development partner for the project, which could feature 61 new homes, 193,000 sq ft of commercial space, and a 50,000 sq ft hotel.
In addition, the council is exploring options around redeveloping the Arcades and Ladysmith shopping centres.
The projects could see the delivery of 470 new homes, 91,000 sq ft of commercial space, a new health and wellbeing hub, and 90,000 sq ft of retained retail space.
The success of the MDZ could have knock-on effects for the wider area. The cabinet report states that it could transform Ashton into “an economic growth engine” for the east of city region with the potential to “strengthen links with Yorkshire” by offering jobs, education, and homes.
Elsewhere in Greater Manchester, Stockport’s Mayoral Development Corporation has resulted in a spike in regeneration activity west of the town centre.
The vehicle, which has cross-party political support, has provided certainty to would-be investors who might have otherwise overlooked Stockport due to its often fractious political landscape.