John Barton

My Place | Rochdale

Rochdale’s thriving business parks have helped bring cash, confidence and speciality coffee to its historic town centre, but the momentum can’t be lost, writes John Barton of BC Real Estate.

On the Friday before the Bank Holiday I had lunch with colleagues in The Medicine Tap, one of a number of new eating and drinking establishments to have opened in Rochdale in the last couple of years. The Medicine Tap is housed in the grade two-listed old Post Office building, and with a good menu and great bar, wouldn’t be out of place in the centre of Manchester.

Instead, the Medicine Tap has made its home in the centre of Rochdale. I live in Rochdale’s suburbs and find myself coming into town in the evening much more now than I ever used to. There’s choice today when before there was none. Ambitious new businesses have made everyone up their game. Rochdale Riverside – a major mixed retail and leisure development opening next year – will only add to Rochdale’s growing reputation (unthinkable a decade ago) as a thriving leisure and nightlife destination.

Rochdale is making the most of its town centre with a £250m regeneration programme. The river has been opened up and transport links greatly improved. Work will soon begin on the restoration of Rochdale’s magnificent Victorian grade one-listed Town Hall.

There is certainly more to be done. Transition takes time. The rundown train station remains a neglected piece of the town’s transport infrastructure. There are plenty of good bars in the town centre now but not enough good restaurants. The Riverside development will open in tough times for retail.

Nevertheless, Rochdale town centre is a far livelier and more interesting place than I’ve ever known it to be, and I’ve lived here most of my life. For that it has a progressive council to thank, alongside the success of a property portfolio that lies far from the centre’s bustling bars and chic coffee shops.

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Rochdale’s renaissance relies on its 14 business parks, strategically located to offer easy access to the motorway network. Together they create thousands of jobs and add millions of pounds to the local economy. The town may need to diversify in future, but for now it is playing to its strengths. Rochdale has made itself an ideal location for manufacturing and logistics businesses looking for good transport links, a wide choice of affordable property and a large labour pool.

Kingsway Business Park is the jewel in the crown, a 420 acre site sitting on Junction 21 of the M62. It is one of the best performing business parks in the North of England. Occupiers include prestigious names like Asda, Wincanton, JD Sports and E.ON.

On the other side of town, Stakehill Industrial Estate sits adjacent to the A627M, putting goods and people within a few minutes’ drive of both the M62 and M60. Occupiers include Yodel, Comfy Quilts, Howard Tenens, and Parcel Force.

These parks are supported by solid infrastructure. Kingsway, for example, boasts its own dedicated Metrolink stop. A superb further education sector in the town provides a ready source of talent for the growing number of advanced manufacturing businesses that are making Rochdale home.

All this activity on the outskirts of the borough provides customers with cash in their pockets for the town centre’s new businesses, but Rochdale must not let the momentum slide. The town boasts growing high-tech and startup sectors, but for the foreseeable future manufacturing and logistics will continue to drive the local economy. The fear is that Rochdale will run out of the kind of land and facilities these businesses need.

To address this concern, the priority should be to expand its current business parks where that is possible, and also exploit the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – a scheme that allows for the commercial use of brownfield and limited stretches of Green Belt land for homes and businesses. The need for more strategic sites will become imperative in the next five to 15 years.

In the meantime, there are still units to be let and space to be filled, the success Rochdale has had by focusing on its business parks was all too evident as we enjoyed lunch in its bustling, newly confident town centre.

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Great article John. Looking forward to phase 2 of Rochdale Central Industrial Estate coming soon in 2020.

By Imran Younus

I don’t agree that our green spaces need to be sacrificed and the town needs to continue to expand and fill the Greenbelt in order to be successful.

Many of the units on Kingsway Park are relocations from other areas of town so haven’t brought new jobs or wealth to the area. Similarly many of the low paid warehousing jobs are taken by workers who travel to Kingsway tram station from out of town so they also do not contribute to the Rochdale economy. Despite creating this new community of businesses and housing, no new centre has been included where small shops/cafe couldwithin Kingsway to include small shops and play is areas for local children to give the area a community feeling.Those workers who travel into the area have nowhere local to spend their money during working hours therefore they add nothing to our local economy but so there is nowhere for the workers to since there are no small shops to service the new business and residential community.
I fundamentally disagree with the Spatial Framework in that seeks to release the best and often the last of the greenspaces and Greenbelt land available between our urban communities for more ill thought out and ugly boxes (warehouses and housing). Providing profit for wealthy developers and revenue for the council at the expense of the health and well-being of existing communities whilst still not addressing the housing crisis which affects low income families.

By Judith Jones

The industrial estates provide low paid jobs. There are not jobs to encourage growth of the town in the so called jewel that is Kingsway. There are lots of vacant units as you pointed out in the article and therefore where is the demand for further building. The jewel if you wish to call it should in fact be the greenpaces which attract people to the area. Outdoor activities such as walking,horse riding, bike riding etc should be promoted to encourage healthy lifestyles and active living. To build on our Greenbelt will diminish this and will also have a massive impact on our air quality and health. These are the things to consider, as the crap we are being fed by councils and government about housing demand is flawed and not evidence based.

By Kelly McBride

It is about time Rochdale got a major makeover while there at it get the Rochdale market sorted out as well get them in a new building and get more market traders make it how it used to be in the old market halls instead of just dumping them near a bloody old taxi rank and forgetting about them because like every other shop in Rochdale they work hard to serve people of Rochdale because if you don’t look after them people would leave and go to other towns because after all Rochdale was becoming an embarrassment with no future.

By Joe Rice

One tram stop is not a solid infrastructure, honestly were you paid by the council to write this tosh? If J21 Kingsway is so great why is it that the warehouses are sinking into the ground? Why do they need flood pumps? Could it be that that valley was used as a waste dump for the cotton mills who buried tons of waste called shoddy in the area. Shoddy plan, shoddy article.

By Anonymous

All about ROCHDALE!! What about the surrounding areas like HEYWOOD who never seem to get any of the money. Business Estates in Heywood also that never seem to be mentioned.

By Barbara ogden

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