Place on Tour: Rochdale

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Rochdale Development AgencyA coachload of agents, developers and planners joined hosts from Rochdale Development Agency and Rochdale Council for a detailed tour of strategic sites in the latest Place on Tour day out.

See gallery below

Attendees enjoyed a diverse tour taking in emerging housing sites, speculative industrial development and £250m of ongoing town centre projects.

Among the attendees were representatives from Atherton Property Partnership, WHR Property Consultants, Hourigan Connolly, Canmoor, Eric Wright Group, Nolan Redshaw, Environment Agency, Peacock & Smith and others.

Below is an at-a-glance summary of the tour:

Hanson Springs

  • Tour began with breakfast at independent family-owned spring manufacturer established 50 years ago, controlled by father and son Malcolm and John Hanson. Guests were greeted by Malcolm’s grandchildren Amy and Ellie
  • Hanson undertook £4m investment in new premises at Gorrells Way in past two years, delivering 90,000 sq ft of new factory and offices on seven acres

Crown Business Park

  • Tim Heatley, director of developer Capital & Centric, spoke about 18-acre site acquired in 2010 from Fortis Bank for £3m and developed in a joint venture with Barnfield Construction
  • First phase built speculatively: 65,000 sq ft offices and warehouses sold to Business First and let on to various occupiers such as British Gas, Wynsors World of Shoes, Floors 2 Go. Offices let to RIS Rutledge Integrates Systems and Document XL
  • Second phase: 70,000 sq ft offices and distribution unit for unnamed occupier has started construction
  • Third and final phase: hybrid warehousing in smaller units of 2,000 sq ft totalling 40,000 sq ft
  • Park is super energy efficient and BREEAM Excellent, said Heatley

Stakehill Industrial Park

  • Commercial Estates Group acquired almost half of the 2.5m sq ft estate in 2012 and is working with Rochdale Development Agency to improve street lighting, landscape, signage, tackle overgrowth, and establish a business forum for occupiers
  • 700,000 sq ft let or re-let in last two years. John Barton of letting agent WHR spoke
  • Council incentivised by growth in business rate income from increased occupancy at park. £400,000 annual rates income added in past two years


  • Mark Robinson, head of planning spoke about healthy housing market in area one mile south of town centre
  • Rochdale is third largest house builder by number in the 10 local councils of Greater Manchester and well positioned to play a key role in any AGMA’s ambitious housing strategy
  • 1,100 residential units consented in Castleton at present
  • Pipeline of new land for housebuilders remains strong with mix of large and small sites
  • Doubling of train services through Castleton on cards with Northern Rail. New Ordsall Chord in Manchester city centre will create direct link into Piccadilly station
  • Proposal to reopen Castleton station and link to historic East Lancashire Railway

Royle Works

  • In Royal Bank of Scotland’s hands after previous developer’s proposal stalled
  • Prime 20-acre site on main A627M gateway into Rochdale Town Centre
  • Cleared site ready for sale
  • Mixed-use development opportunity suitable for leisure-led scheme with scope for direct access to Edinburgh Way

Heywood Distribution Park

  • 2m sq ft logistics and industrial estate with simplified planning zone status, enabling quick consents, typically in four weeks
  • Canmoor acquired site in 2012 with 40% voids and now down to low teens. 1m sq ft of deals completed since acquisition
  • Two speculative units, of 150,000 sq ft and 70,000 sq ft, due on site before end of 2014 for six-to-nine-month build programme
  • Further 500,000 sq ft new-build opportunity available
  • Footasylum among new tenants this year, agreed 135,000 sq ft 10-year lease in second quarter

Axis Point

  • Terraces of smaller units from 2,500 sq ft to 12,000 sq ft completed by Seddon Developments
  • Part of Hareshill Business park opposite Heywood Distribution Park
  • Ink and coating solutions firm INX moved to a new manufacturing plant next to Axis Point in 2013
  • A final speculative development plot remains in corner of park next to INX, set for 90,000 sq ft distribution unit with anticipated planning application in early 2015, on site in spring

J19 of M62

  • Funding approved for £7m link road from motorway to south Heywood at Hareshill Road
  • Road will ease congestion and open up 1.5m sq ft development opportunity
  • Mixture of commercial and residential planned for new development area
  • Expected to save two million heavy goods vehicle miles a year

Town Centre

  • View slides from presentation given in Town Hall here
  • £250m ongoing transformation of town centre over a six-year period: £150m spent to date
  • Key projects completed to date are Number One Riverside, Leisure Centre and new Sixth Form College. Number One Riverside office, headquarters for Rochdale Council, was voted best workplace in the country 2014 by the British Council for Offices
  • Town centre Metrolink stop opened in March 2014. New Metrolink and Transport Interchange in heart of town centre improves public transport links. Increased footfall of students using new public transport to get to college and 6th form
  • Future Town Centre East scheme for major retail and leisure development, will be delivered by developer Genr8. Site assembled and demolitions complete. Scheme for new shop units, cinema, hotel and cafes and restaurants along with new car parking facilities. Aim to attract key retailers and leisure operators not currently represented in the town. Improving the town retail offer, bringing in extra visitors and shoppers and improving the town’s evening economy. Genr8 in talks with three anchors and planning application expected in 2015
  • Council is exploring options for restoration of listed Town Hall building with lottery funding and progressing work to find new sustainable uses for the building. Opportunity for future venue for conferences, meeting rooms, functions and community space, café and restaurant
  • Supermarket operator Morrisons agreed a deal with Millerbrook Properties for a town centre store on Smith Street
  • August 2014, car care products manufacturer Tetrosyl acquired 50,000 sq ft Newgate House from Telereal Trillium for its corporate headquarters
  • Work to bring forward the reopening River Roch scheme in heart of town centre is progressing
  • Council is creating a new entrance to the Wheatsheaf Centre to replace overhead bridge links and integrate the centre with the future Town Centre East scheme
  • Former Post Office building refurbishment ongoing by Hurstwood, seeking occupiers for ground floor and office tenants for upper floors. Now renamed 2 The Esplanade
  • Public investment in infrastructure in town centre is bringing in private business, such as Morrisons, Tetrosyl and Hurstwood

Smallbridge Business Park

  • Developed by Casey Group, next to J21 of M62
  • Property Alliance Group appointed joint venture partner for 150,000 sq ft extension, granted consent in 2013
  • Mixed-use opportunity fronting business park, suitable or drive-thru food operator
  • Freehold or leasehold deals available

Dale Mill

  • 4.5 acres council-owned land reserved for residential development
  • Potential for 80 houses
  • Riverside frontage onto River Roch
  • Initial remediation and infrastructure work already undertaken

Kingsway Business Park

  • David Wilson Homes, part of park developer Wilson Bowden, is planning a second phase of family housing with a planning application due before Christmas
  • JD Sports employ 1,500 people at its 850,000 sq ft distribution centre, expected to rise to 2,500 people next year. Consent for 100,000 sq ft mezzanine extension granted in summer
  • Quality hotel operator sought for corner plot at entrance to park
  • 200,000 sq ft speculative unit planned to start on site soon, subject to securing investment partner. Planning consent was secured in September
  • Served by own Metrolink stop used by over 7,000 people a month
  • Lesley Hall, human resources manager for Asda Wincanton, praised Rochdale Development Agency and the council for assistance in developing its 400,000 sq ft site and helping with training and recruitment
  • Labour market is strong and getting more competitive as economy picks up, Hall said
  • Wincanton employs 350 people running depot for Asda

Phil Ewbank, chairman of Commercial Contract Engineers and Rochdale Development Agency, said: “Having been in business for 33 years in the borough and relocated twice from our original site in Rhodes Middleton, such initiatives as this coach tour are extremely valuable to business looking to grow and expand their operations regardless of their size.

“There is a real sense that the economy is now on the rise which is also reflected in business confidence and the appetite for growth something we have not seen since 2009. Rochdale Council and the RDA work extremely well together recognising each other’s strengths and this combination is what offers Rochdale its very own unique USP. Economic development has to be at the heart of our future and the tour was a perfect platform to showcase this whilst allowing fellow companies and developers the opportunity to say why they chose the borough Rochdale to invest.”£

John Hudson, chief executive of Rochdale Development Agency, said: “It was important for the RDA to demonstrate that Rochdale is open for business and to physically show investors, developers and agents the opportunities available in the Borough across all sectors. For many I think it was a revelation, not just the scale of the potential here but the way we can do business together.

“We were able to show development activity underway on major sites like Kingsway and in the town centre but also new opportunities including surplus council properties now available since the council consolidated staff in the move to No1 Riverside.

“Rochdale has room to grow and the RDA is here to help businesses who want to be part of that growth.”

To discuss these and other opportunities contact Carol Hopkins, John Hudson and John Searle at Rochdale Development Agency on 01706 868999,,, . See also

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