Rochdale Town Centre Shopfronts CGI
Purcell Architects is leading the £1.2m restoration programme

Rochdale’s historic areas in line for upgrade

Sarah Townsend

Two sites in the town centre, South Parade and Lower Drake Street, are to undergo improvements in the coming months including new public realm and revamped shopfronts, as part of a wider heritage regeneration strategy.

The £1.2m project is being led by Rochdale Council and designed by Purcell Architects. It will focus on South Parade, lower Drake Street, Butts Avenue and Bull Brow, providing a much-needed makeover for the area around the reopened river in the centre of the Rochdale’s conservation area, according to the council.

Under the plans, more traditional shop fronts will be reintroduced on South Parade and Lower Drake Street to better reflect the historic character of buildings, some of which date back to the early 19th century.

Crucial roof repairs will take place, and original sash windows will be repaired or replaced, using heritage building materials where possible, such as Welsh slate and York Stone on the roofs.

Meanwhile on Bull Brow and Butts Avenue, property improvements and repairs are to take place, while planters, benchers and outdoor seating will be installed for certain restaurants and festoon lighting and decorative screens will aim to further rejuvenate the area.

The new street furniture will incorporate symbols of bulls in a nod to the area’s name, which is believed to originate from either the annual bull baiting festival that took place in the River Roch, and the historic leading of bulls through the town to the slaughterhouse in Bull Yard.

The work project is part of the Heritage Action Zone roadmap, which is being led by Rochdale Council alongside Rochdale Development Agency and Historic England and aims to support the restoration and reuse of historic properties in and around Drake Street.

The work is expected to complete later this year, while improvements to Butts Avenue and Bull Brow are expected to complete by Easter.

Cllr John Blundell, cabinet member for a thriving economy at Rochdale Council, said: “You can’t underestimate the value of having good quality public spaces. It lifts a whole area and creates a place where people want to come and spend time.

“These particular schemes will really complement the reopened river and other historic buildings nearby, including the old RBS building, which is now a new Hogarth’s pub, and the old Wellington Hotel, which is now Bombay Brew restaurant.”

The HAZ projects are also situated close to Rochdale’s grade one-listed town hall, which is undergoing a £14m restoration.


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Seems a great idea, but who is going to be in these shops?? More takeaways?? Rochdale have already landed themselves with underwriting the rental from riverside retail lumbering the Tax Payer with this liability (which is a huge risk as retail is dying) will they be doing the same here??

By Stripester

It’s about time some money was invested in Heywood!

By Barbara ogden

The town centre needs it, it’s looking good but not quite there, and the shop fronts definitely need upgrading, looking forward to seeing it happen

By C OConnor

Being born and bred in Middleton, I think more could be done to our many heritage sites which are currently falling into serious ruin. It’s heartbreaking to watch.

By Karen Lindsay

What about Middleton? Buy back the Warwick Mill and demolish it. Please.

By Karen Shaw

Warwick Mill is spectacular! A real, and increasingly rare, example of our heritage that helped put the area on the map. Building like this must be saved! Can you imagine how depressing it would be if it was destroyed for another ugly and anonymous housing estate or retail park?

By Old mill