Historic England has named Rochdale town centre as one of eight Heritage Action Zones selected for funding support of up to £500,000 in the second wave of the Heritage Action Zone programme.
HAZs were launched earlier this year, with Appleby in Cumbria among the first wave of successful bidders. They are intended to support heritage projects over a three to five year period.
In Rochdale, the Drake Street area is to be the heart of the zone, which will also include the Town Centre Conservation Area, with the aim of the project being to take the town centre off Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.
Historic England officers will now work with the council to help form an action plan for the area that will enable the funding to be unlocked. Subject to approval, the Heritage Action Zone will begin in May 2018 and run for five years. The council has also pledged £1m support for heritage areas.
The HAZ project will include working with Historic England to explore the possibility of converting some of the town’s historic properties for residential use. Work will also be undertaken to find potential uses for buildings including the former Rochdale Observer building and “Fashion Corner,” the building that formerly housed the drapery operation of the Rochdale Pioneers.
The bid was developed by the council, with the support of the Co-operative College, the Co-operative Heritage Trust, Rochdale Development Agency, RBH and Link4Life.
Catherine Dewar, planning director for Historic England in the North West, said: “Rochdale has so much to be proud of, from its Co-operative heritage to its town hall. Some of its historic buildings are showing signs of neglect, but with a little investment and imagination they can become assets for the people of Rochdale to enjoy.
“We are looking forward to working with Rochdale Council to increase awareness of what Rochdale has to offer and to make it easy for investors and developers to bring jobs, homes and visitors here.”
Cllr Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Drake Street is full of fantastic historic buildings. Unfortunately, despite it being a really important gateway into the town centre, it has lost its way in recent years, as the retail core has moved. That’s why the support is so important. It’s the first step towards the revival of this incredibly important area.”