Submissions for Farnworth, Leigh, Prestwich, Stalybridge, Swinton, and Stretford to be part of Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge have been made to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The towns have been nominated by Bolton, Wigan, Bury, Tameside, Salford, and Trafford councils respectively, as Burnham looks to trigger regeneration into underfunded urban centres.
Launched in November, and quickly seized on by Stockport, Burnham’s challenge reflects his attempt to deliver a “new approach to planning and development” in Greater Manchester, moving away from what he has called the “developer-led, greenfield-first approach of the past.”
As part of the Town Centre Challenge, the Mayor said he will work with each council, to bring together housing providers, public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders “to unlock the potential in town centres, particularly to deliver viable housing markets and sustainable communities”.
The initiative will be supported by new Mayoral powers to establish Mayoral Development Corporations, the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders and Mayoral grants to kick-start developments.
Manchester has not put a district centre forward, but confirmed its support, while Oldham and Rochdale are each focusing on major plans in their main town centres. Burnham has said that councils not taking part in this first wave will not be at any disadvantage in future programmes.
Burnham said: “This new initiative is all about working together to regenerate town centres cross Greater Manchester, which have felt left behind. These latest submissions demonstrate a meaningful commitment to create real change across Greater Manchester.
“The challenge represents a significant opportunity for councils to drive forward real and sustainable change. The time has come to breathe new life into our proud towns.”
Over the next month, Burnham will meet council representatives from each of the councils to assess their proposals, discuss how to tackle existing barriers to investment, and accelerate plans to development. Restructuring retail space, public sector hubs, venues for events and improving the cultural offer are among the issues the towns are looking to take on. The first meeting is scheduled for this week in Prestwich.
The Mayor’s office also announced that it is hoped that the projects will be supported by a new housing deal, under discussion between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Government.