JAB…‘Meanwhile’ uses are all the rage these days. In Northwich, Cheshire West & Chester Council is creating a temporary recreational green space where the former Weaver Square outdoor market once stood, as it draws up plans for the redevelopment of the fire-damaged site. Capital & Centric is leasing its Swan Street site in Manchester, soon to be redeveloped into a 120-apartment scheme in partnership with Kamani Property Group, to deep-dish pizza magicians Ramona. Now, in Liverpool, developer Torus has offered up facilities at Liverpool FC’s former Melwood training ground, which it bought last August, to the NHS to use as a vaccination hub. Ultimately, the site will house 160 affordable homes but for the time being, it will be inhabited by needle-wielding nurses. Torus group chief executive, Steve Coffey said: “The NHS deserves to be commended on how quickly it has rolled out this world-leading vaccination programme. With ambitions to have offered every adult in the country the vaccine by July, it is imperative we continue to contribute to its ongoing success – in whatever way possible – and we offered up the gym and physio rooms without question.” 

Rochdale Angel

ANGELS…Contactor HH Smith & Sons stumbled across an ethereal surprise during its work to help restore the grade one-listed, Rochdale Town Hall. A rather forlorn-looking angel – you would be too if you had been trapped behind a stud wall for years – was discovered in the room previously used by Rochdale Music Service, which is being turned into the Bright Hall, a new community and events space. The shield-carrying heavenly messenger is being spruced up ready to take her place in the newly restored town hall when it reopens to the public in 2023.

SELF-BUILD…Lockdown has forced many of us into DIY mode. Banned from leaving the house for much of the last 12 months, we have grabbed paintbrushes, sledgehammers and wallpaper steamers en masse and embarked on long put-off home improvement projects. For Ernst and Rachel ter Horst – associate at architecture firm Feilden Clegg Bradley and senior development manager at Trafford Housing Trust, respectively – have taken the concept of DIY to another level and were doing so long before lockdown made it trendy. Their self-build project in Stretford began in the summer of 2019 (the foundations were poured the day the couple’s third child entered the world) and now is nearing completion after a great deal of hard graft. If you’re proud of those new shelves you finally got round to putting up, imagine how the ter Horsts must be feeling right now.

Talbot Gateway Office

The office would block views of Blackpool Tower from George Street

VIEWS…This week, Blackpool Council unanimously approved plans for a 215,000 sq ft civil service hub in the town centre. In presenting the application to the planning committee, the council’s head of development Susan Parker conceded that the seven-storey building would block out views of the town’s iconic tower from certain angles and would be a “prominent feature in the backdrop” of the town centre conservation area. However, local residents’ concerns about having their view of the tower impeded were brushed aside to a degree during the meeting: “Anyone from Blackpool knows the tower is always there in the background and residents do become accustomed to glimpsed views. As such, these view cannot be afforded the same significance as the strategic views which are important to the visitors of the town.” Interesting.

Barton Aqueduct

BRIDGE…fans of aqueducts and active travel, brace yourselves for delight. Peel L&P is planning to reinstate the towpath along the Barton Swing Aqueduct in Eccles, plugging an active travel black spot on Bridgewater Way. Currently, to travel across the Manchester Ship Canal and Barton Lane, pedestrians and cyclists are required to leave the Bridgewater Way and partake in a spot of vehicle dodging along Barton Road. Under Peel’s plans, which are out for consultation, a new towpath would be created so that those travelling by bike or on foot can cross the aqueduct safely before rejoining the Bridgewater Canal to continue their waterside jaunts.  

Lime Scooters Salford 4

SCOOTER…Amid the ongoing success of its e-scooter trial in Salford, Lime Scooters has been chosen as the preferred operator in Rochdale, as the town embarks on its own active travel revolution. The 12-month trial, which will see 500 scooters deployed around Rochdale, will initially be limited to the town centre, before extending outwards to areas like Castleton and Milnrow, with further performance-based extensions to Heywood and Littleborough in the pipeline. 

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