A 'war chest' to make strategic site acquisitions is part of a £32m capital investment programme approved last night by Oldham Council.
The programme also covers reducing the number of buildings occupied by the council, road improvements and making the town centre ready for the arrival of the Metrolink line. The council said it wanted to make Oldham, which failed to capitalise on the property boom, 'shovel-ready' for the economic recovery.
Cllr Lynne Thompson, cabinet member for performance and value for public money, said: "This is a hugely significant programme of investment for the Borough running until 2014.
"There are also key measures included here – like those related to enabling regeneration and Metrolink – which will be crucial to ensuring that we have the infrastructure in place to capitalise when the economic recovery arrives."
The council ran up a £20m deficit and had to make huge job losses in recent years. Its turnaround is being led by chief executive and regeneration specialist Charlie Parker, formerly of English Partnerships, Manchester City Council and Liverpool City Council, who started at Oldham in October 2008.
Proposals in the capital spending programme approved this week include:
- £10m to significantly improve the local Highways network
- £5m to improve the highway and public realm while the town centre line is constructed, including a new link road between Yorkshire Street/Oldham Way at Mumps, street furniture, and highways work
- £1.45m to secure the Coliseum Theatre building for the future
- £350,000 to tackle blight, improve landmark buildings/gateways, manage sites and deliver 'cleaner and greener' corridors
- £2m pot to make strategic property acquisitions to support key regeneration objectives, plus £2.5m to join a new Greater Manchester Investment Fund for major renewal initiatives
- £250,000 to provide 30 more alley-gate schemes plus improved security for 1,700 homes
- £6m to rationalise the Council's estate with better use of space, more staff in less buildings, and flexible working areas
- £558,000 to implement energy efficiency measures across the council: reducing carbon taxes and saving energy costs
- £363,000 to improve Tommyfield, Shaw and Royton markets, with the aim of reinvigorating these venues