The mixed-use redevelopment of Mill Gate Shopping Centre is among the highlights of a 20-year strategy drawn up for Bury town centre, while a public realm focussed masterplan for Ramsbottom is also due for council sign-off.
Bury town centre
A project team comprising CBRE, Aecom, and Chapman Taylor has worked with Bury Council to identify the key development opportunities in the town centre.
Next week, Bury’s cabinet will be asked to approve the draft masterplan in principle, triggering a six-week public consultation on the proposals beginning in the new year.
The masterplan focuses on 10 individual zones:
- Retail Heart – creating a diverse new shopping, leisure and housing area through the redesign of the Mill Gate in partnership with Bruntwood
- Vibrant Bury – with a new modern transport interchange, a new flexi-hall at an improved Bury Market. The council will use Levelling Up Fund cash to pay for the flexi-hall
- Cultural Quarter – building on Bury’s existing cultural and visitor attractions, with a new ‘Station Square’ to enhance the town’s historic character
- Knowledge Zone – incorporating the proposed Health Innovation and STEM Centre, Woodbury College and the Millennium Centre, with the potential to draw more students into the town centre and act as a focal point for research and innovation
- Town Centre South – an area next to the town centre and market with the potential for sustainable transport and car parking in the form of a mobility hub, and possibly a new leisure facility
- Eastern Gateway – leading to The Rock, with a new hotel on the old fire station site and new housing, and an innovation hub to foster small businesses and start-ups
- Western Gateway – a sustainable and high-quality housing area focused on families
- Southern Gateway – new sustainable housing, linking the town centre and educational opportunities and improved public spaces
- Sports Campus – at the southern edge of the town centre, there is an opportunity to build on the existing leisure facilities, including the athletics track. This could be a third option for a new purpose-built leisure facility or a multi-functional sports hall
- Chamberhall – a high-quality location for businesses and light industrial opportunities close to the town centre. The zone also provides important connections to the Irwell Sculpture Trail, Burr’s Country Park and beyond.
Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, leader of the council, said: “While Bury has performed well as a retail-led centre, there are significant ongoing changes in people’s shopping habits. Predictions suggest that there will be a 20-30% drop in retail sales within town centres as more people shop online.
“This means Bury cannot afford to stand still, and we need to plan for how we will adapt to the rapidly changing economic landscape facing high streets across the country.
“The centres that survive will be those which are able to adapt to provide a diverse range of visitor and leisure attractions, modern workplaces and a reconfigured and varied retail experience that is supported by good public transport accessibility and a high-quality pedestrian experience.”
Elsewhere in the borough, the council is also preparing to launch a consultation on its Ramsbottom masterplan in the new year.
Drawn up by Layer.studio, Paul Butler Associates, Curtins, Fourth Street, and Appleyard & Trew, the masterplan features the creation of an enterprise centre through the re-use of vacant space in the Market Chambers buildings, as well as a new public square.
Much of the initiative contained within the masterplan are intended to improve Ramsbottom’s public realm and update its parking strategy through the introduction of a long-stay car park near the town’s leisure centre.
Layer.studio director Matthew Warner said: “Ramsbottom is a cracking place with bags of heritage and a buzzing culture scene so we’re hugely excited to be helping to cement the town as one of the best places to live and visit in the North West.
“We have a bold and ambitious plan to help Ramsbottom build back better after Covid, from creating a bustling new public square and destination for events in the heart of Ramsbottom, enhancing the public realm, pedestrian and cycle links to make it easier to get around and explore the town centre, to looking at offering agile space for start-ups, freelancers and self-employed residents.
“Ramsbottom has a unique community spirit and is a melting pot of creatives and brilliant indie businesses so to get this right we need local people to get involved and help shape the plans through our planned public consultation in January.”