Oldham town centre is set to be “transformed” after being granted £24.4m from the Towns Fund for 2021.
The £3.6 billion government pot was announced in January – with the money released to boost local economies, create jobs and help towns build back better from the pandemic.
Oldham is set to use its share of the funding to create the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park – providing 160 acres of high-quality green space for community use.
Part of the money will also be used to turn Tommyfield Market into a purpose-built facility in Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre (where flexible workspace will also be created).
The council is also launching the ‘Making Space – For Live Performance’ project – designed to expand the existing performing arts offer in scope, scale and quality. The development will be situated within a redeveloped Old Post Office and aspires to be a net-zero carbon enterprise.
Council leaders say the funding will be used with a focus on sustainability – placing green recovery at the heart of town centre regeneration.
The money was secured by Oldham’s Town Deal Board – a group dedicated to developing the borough’s Investment Plan.
Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Economic and Social Reform, said: “As Oldhamers we know our town has fantastic potential, and we are pleased that the Government have endorsed our vision for the town centre.
“Oldham bid for a competitive £41m for five ambitious projects that will make the town centre a place that mixes retail, work, homes and leisure, and will help establish Oldham as the greenest borough in Greater Manchester. Securing funding for four out of five is a great result.
“We will now look at alternative routes to delivering the fifth project – a Minewater Heat Network which could convert water from flooded coal mines into energy to create an environmentally friendly power source for the town centre.”
He added: “These projects will not only boost regeneration, they will also create much-needed jobs, apprenticeships, training and opportunities to support our recovery from the pandemic as sustainably as possible.”
The £24.4m Towns Fund funding follows Oldham’s successful bid for £10.7 million from the Future High Streets Fund – which will support other local regeneration projects such as making the town centre more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists, launching a new food hall in the Old Town Hall’s Egyptian Room, and opening a business hub for digital start-ups.
Peter Holbrook CBE, Chair of Oldham Town Deal Board and Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “We’re delighted to have received this funding which will realise the ambition for change in Oldham.
“The Town Deal Board is made up of private and public sector partners who all share a combined vision for Oldham to be a town where business and enterprise can thrive and where people want to live, visit, relax and work. The projects within our bid will help us to deliver that shared goal.
“My thanks goes to the Board and everyone who has played their part in securing this important funding for the borough. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring the projects to life and help Oldham realise its potential.”