Rochdale is an exciting place to be in 2023 thanks to the ambition and desire of a local authority determined to drive levelling up in the borough, writes Andrew Russell of Russells.
Rochdale is awash with new development, regeneration, investment, transport and infrastructure initiatives, all designed to create and sustain thousands of new jobs for the borough and deliver thousands of high quality new homes. They all make Rochdale a genuinely exciting proposition for investment.
More than 2,400 of those new jobs are set to be created through the development of our 120-acre HPARK manufacturing and distribution park in Heywood, a scheme designed to attract global business to locate in the borough.
January’s launch of HPARK, alongside last November’s opening of the new M62 link road, marked the culmination of more than a decade of our working alongside Rochdale Council and the Rochdale Development Agency to design and bring forward a masterplan aligned to the borough’s ambition for the area.
In establishing the RDA 30 years ago, the council recognised that while economic regeneration may focus on job creation, the authority also has a part to play in ensuring the provision of quality housing and community facilities in order to retain and attract a skilled workforce.
Up to 1,000 of those high-quality new homes will emerge from our South Heywood masterplan. Indeed, construction of the first 300 is underway as I write.
The new homes, the commercial developments, and infrastructure improvement afforded by the link road also unlock the provision of new community facilities to serve the area. This include a primary school, sports village, and local centre, all of which will be coming forward over the next decade.
But all of this clearly needs to be done sustainably and holistically to ensure success. The council and RDA are all too aware of this.
Rochdale has declared a climate emergency and pledged to reduce its own carbon emissions while also using its influence to promote sustainable development goals throughout the borough.
These goals align with our own corporate commitments on sustainability and those of our clients. HPARK, for example, will be built to BREEAM Excellent standards and be EPC A rated. The huge units will be PV-ready, with air source heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers as standard.
Such measures not only echo the local authority’s view, they allow us to meet the increasing demands of manufacturers and logistics operators for reduced emissions and lower operating costs.
Similarly, the council’s high standards for new homes resonates with our desire to build properties that purchasers actually want to buy, packed with eco-conscious features like solar panels, responsibly sourced materials, and fixtures that save energy and water.
We look beyond the fabric of the buildings to the overall setting of a scheme, appreciating our responsibility to the wider environment and the outdoor spaces in which residents and employees will spend their time. It is crucial to provide attractive developments with areas of public open space, places to play and exercise, enhanced natural zones and native tree planting to encourage wildlife.
Both HPARK and West Hopwood, the residential community created under the masterplan, will encompass all of this and more.
The opening of the M62 Junction 19 link road in November last year was pivotal.
The new 2.2km Queen Elizabeth II Way unlocks the potential for the whole of Heywood. It is the first major delivery under the South Heywood Masterplan. This was a long held ambition for the local authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Transport for Greater Manchester.
Together with National Highways, which also contributed funding, we have delivered an infrastructure priority for the borough.
Firstly, it removes thousands of journeys through Heywood town centre. This allows a complete rethink of the town centre’s character and use. Accordingly, the council’s Streets for All agenda aims to reclaim the town centre for pedestrians.
Crucially for HPARK, the new highway provides direct access from the South Heywood employment zone to the M62 and the region’s motorway network. This reduces return journeys – as measured by the area’s myriad logistics businesses – by 17km. The savings that generates in time, fuel use, emissions, and cost will be invaluable to operators now and in the future.
Located at the junction of the M60, M62, and M66, just nine miles from central Manchester, Heywood is now arguably the best connected location for road-based businesses in the North.
The bigger picture
Rochdale has a clear vision for where it wants to be and is prepared to put in the hard graft to get there.
None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the local council’s ambition and approach to partnership working, be that with private developers or neighbouring local authorities, and its portal to investment for the last 30 years, the RDA. The agency is instrumental in attracting investment into the borough. RDA is often the first point of contact for companies looking towards the area for their new premises.
Further development of the Northern Gateway and the Atom Valley mayoral development zone is the next step in this narrative and sees Rochdale team up with Bury and Oldham to deliver a greener, fairer more prosperous future under the levelling up agenda.
The area has been hailed one to watch as an emerging hotspot within Greater Manchester. This is no finger-in-the-air ambition.
The journey has already begun, spades are in the ground, and change is on its way.