Plans hatched for Castleton’s station-led regeneration

Rochdale Council has prepared a draft framework to guide development in the area, following a sizeable piece of work with the Greater Manchester Stations Alliance to assess local investment opportunities.

Castleton is one of five railway stations whose surrounding land was earmarked for development in a 15-year vision published by the council last year. Consultancies Broadway Malyan and WSP drew up the Rail Corridor Strategy masterplan to transform brownfield land around Rochdale, Castleton, Smithy Bridge, Littleborough and Mills Hill stations into 7,000 homes, 2.5m sq ft of commercial space and an £11m cycle corridor.

The project would represent the borough’s biggest regeneration in decades.

The masterplan was produced for Rochdale Council and the GM Station Alliance, a city region-wide partnership comprising Transport for Greater Manchester, national rail operator Network Rail, relevant rail franchises and Government-owned land promoter LCR.

Castleton is now the first station where steps towards redevelopment are being taken, with the council’s communities and regeneration committee expected to thrash out views on a draft supplementary planning document for the area today.

The three focus areas for regeneration over the next 10-15 years are Castleton’s Station Area South, Station Area North, and Lower Queensway & Albion Street Triangle, according to the document. The specific proposals include:

  • Creating a village centre in Castleton by concentration of mixed uses around the station and Manchester Road/Albion Street Triangle
  • drawing up and delivering a residential-led masterplan for land close to the station that “integrates employment, social and community infrastructure”
  • upgrades to Castleton railway station itself, such as improving the sense of arrival and “gateway experience”, a new station entrance and expanded car parking and other facilities
  • additional tram and train services operating between Oldham and Bury via Heywood to improve local connectivity
  • the extension of the East Lancashire Railway Heritage Line to Castleton
  • provision of Bee Network cycle corridor lanes on Manchester Road
  • opening up the canal to promote tourism and recreation through the regeneration of several residential and commercial development sites.

“There is strong market interest in the Castleton area,” a report to the committee noted. “The council is seeking to promote transit-led integrated development and placemaking around existing stations with the aim of unlocking the dormant potential of Castleton station through dynamic urban regeneration and the creation of a transport-orientated community.

“There is also an opportunity to make more of Castleton Centre as a location, creating places where people want to come and live and helping to make the area thrive.”

Rochdale has secured more than £3m of devolved funding from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for transport and housing schemes within the Castleton area, the report added. The council and its partners intend to use the new document to support further applications for grant funding to bring forward certain residential and commercial sites forward for development – and to invest in the infrastructure needed to help schemes progress.

LCR, as part of the GM Stations Alliance, has also been working with the boroughs of Stockport and Trafford to try and assemble parcels of railway land in disparate ownership to make it easier to bring sites forward for redevelopment.

The organisation’s regional director Adam Wisher told Place North West in January that LCR would soon be going to market to source joint venture partners to deliver around 700 homes across Trafford and Stockport, 7,000 homes in Rochdale as part of the borough’s Rail Corridor Strategy, and upwards of 500 homes as part of the long-awaited Chester City Gateway masterplan.

In April, Stockport Council earmarked plots around Hazel Grove and Cheadle Hulme for development as part of its work with LCR, and said it plans further studies to examine the regeneration potential of two further stations, Bramhall and Rose Hill Marple.

Rochdale has not yet sourced delivery partners for its own strategy.

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