John Hudson, chief executive of Rochdale Development Agency, is retiring after 22 years at the head of the borough’s economic and business development agency.
The RDA was created in 1993 to spearhead the economic and physical regeneration of Rochdale borough, working on behalf of Rochdale Council with other public and private partners.
The RDA said he has helped the borough attract more than £1bn of economic investment and been instrumental in retaining many companies and jobs within the local area.
Hudson was central to the creation of the 420-acre Kingsway Business Park, one of the largest and most successful development projects in the North of England, and a major provider of jobs for borough residents. Under his leadership the RDA was also responsible for delivering a £50m development strategy for Middleton town centre, working on behalf of the Council. The scheme involved major new retail, leisure, public transport and public realm investment, including the £12m Middleton Arena project. In Heywood, the RDA has been key to attracting massive private investment in new employment areas and other physical regeneration projects, such as the transformation of The Old Police Station into a successful managed office space for small businesses.
Over the past decade the RDA has worked with the council on the regeneration strategy for Rochdale town centre. The work includes the new library and civic offices at Number One Riverside, a new public transport interchange and work to reopen a section of the River Roch. RDA has helped assemble a major development site and negotiate the agreements with the Council’s partner, Genr8. Work on the new £100m retail and leisure scheme is due to begin in 2016.
Hudson said: “The focus for the RDA and myself is always on the present and future rather than the past. However, after my retirement I will look back with pride and genuine affection on my working life in Rochdale borough and what has been achieved by our unique local partnership.”
RDA chairman Phil Ewbank said: “John helped establish the RDA and made it the great organisation it is today. Over the last 22 years there have been many changes but having someone of Johns’ calibre at the helm has ensured the agency met the challenges along the way. Working alongside Rochdale Council, he has delivered some very important projects that have generated huge economic growth in the borough and much needed employment opportunities for local people.”
Leader of Rochdale Council, Cllr Richard Farnell, said: “The RDA has been an important partner for the council and the borough over more than 20 years. John has played a key role in a number of major projects that have helped the council revitalise many areas, delivering both jobs and economic growth.
“We are enormously grateful for his contribution to the borough of Rochdale and to the Rochdale Development Agency.”
Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Council, said: “John’s leadership of Rochdale Development Agency has been a major factor in many of the really key regeneration projects around the borough. I would like to thank him for his contribution and commitment to the partnership between the council and the RDA and the great many things we have achieved together.”
John Searle, development director, will become acting chief executive on John Hudson’s departure, ensuring continuity in the important services that are delivered by the development agency.
Hudson’s last day is due to be Friday 26 June.