Touchstones, Rochdale, p planning

Architectural Emporium has designed the redesign of Touchstones Rochdale. Credit: via planning documents

Rochdale’s £6m Touchstones revamp gets approval

Work is set to begin this spring on the transformation of the grade two-listed gallery into a cultural hub with a basement coworking office.

Rochdale Development Agency is leading the delivery of Touchstones revamp, alongside operator YourTrust. Money for the £6m project comes from the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport’s Cultural Development Fund, Rochdale Council, and the National Lottery.

The improved Touchstones on the corner of St Mary’s Gate and The Esplanade in Rochdale will include performance venues, training areas, and exhibition halls. There will also be artist studios. A dining area will be introduced, a space that will offer food surrounded by art commissioned for the space.

Also on the docket: improving the accessibility credentials of the building by adding fully accessible public toilets and installing improved access ramps.

Cllr Sue Smith, cabinet member for communities and co-operation at Rochdale Council, said that the project would turn “the building into something truly wonderful and fit for the 21st century, creating more opportunities for local people and visitors to enjoy culture in Rochdale”.

Arts Council England manages the CDF on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. The Arts Council’s director of the North, Jen Clearly, described why it wanted to support the Touchstones scheme.

“The establishment of a creative hub in the town centre will attract new audiences to an array of exciting performances, events, and exhibitions, as well as supporting the local economy,” Clearly said. “This project is an excellent example of how partnership working can transform places and I look forward to seeing how it develops.”

A main contractor for the scheme is set to be appointed shortly with an eye for Touchstones reopening in 2025.

Hive Projects is the project manager for the Touchstones project, while Architectural Emporium designed the revamped building. The project team also includes landscape architect Gillespies, BB Heritage Studio, Sutcliffe, and Steven Hunt & Associates. Identity Consult is the quantity surveyor and Jenson Hughes is the fire consultant.

You can learn more about the redesign by searching 23/00623/FUL on Rochdale Council’s planning portal.

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