Scrutiny committee to look at Rochdale scheme

Rachael Tinniswood

Plans for a £100m regeneration scheme to regenerate Rochdale town centre have been referred to a council scrutiny committee.

Ask and Sultan Properties, Wilson Bowden, and Valad were all in the running to be awarded the contract.

Ask and Sultan's plans had involved 275,000 sq ft of new shops, 53,000 sq ft of bars and restaurants, 80,000 sq ft of new supermarket, 250,000 sq ft of office space, 150-bedroom hotel and brasserie, 250 one and two-bedroom apartments and a 110,000 sq ft Debenhams store.

Valad's proposals included a department store, new flats, offices, leisure opportunities such as a cinema and a gym, new town squares and community spaces and improved underground parking facilities.

Wilson Bowden Developments also wanted to include a new Debenhams department store, a large Marks & Spencer and a major food store, 1,200 new car parking spaces, a new central area with an iconic sculpture, cafes, bars, restaurants and 282 new apartments.

A joint statement from Ask and Sultan said: "We have today been notified by DTZ, commercial consultants for the Rochdale Development Agency, that the decision to appoint a preferred developer for Rochdale Town Centre has been 'called in' by Rochdale Council.

"The decision will be of massive importance to the town's future prosperity so we understand the desire for more intensive scrutiny of the competing proposals.

"We are confident that our proposals are in the best interests of the people of Rochdale, especially existing local traders on Yorkshire Street who will benefit from the extensive retail circuit – including a new 80,000 sq ft Debenhams – which we intend to create.

"Of all the bidders, only our proposals do not involve a lengthy Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire parts of The Wheatsheaf Centre, which will enable the town centre re-development to proceed without many years delay."

Roger Ellis, chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Following the Town Centre Committee on 11 February it was decided to take the decision to a council scrutiny committee for further consideration. This is normal procedure and will enable the decision making process to be fully examined. All three proposals have been carefully evaluated during a very rigorous process and I look forward to announcing the decision very shortly, once the developers have been informed."

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