A national planning expert has said that the best is yet to come for Rochdale during a special tour of the town centre.
Phil Williams, President of the RPTI (Royal Town Planning Institute) made the comment during a visit to Rochdale, after the river re-opening scheme scooped the RPTI’s prestigious award for Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment.
Mr Williams heard about Rochdale town centre’s £250m regeneration programme, which has changed the area beyond recognition since it started in 2010.
Mr Williams, who is also Director of Planning and Place at Belfast City Council, said: “Rochdale is looking fantastic and it’s clear that the best is yet to come. In my experience, once you’ve achieved big things, like the river-re-opening, there’s a real momentum behind you and achieving even more starts to become a lot easier.
“Rochdale town centre is a great example of physical regeneration and there’s a lot more in the pipeline, including plans for the restoration of the town hall and the new Rochdale Market. I’m sure that these future projects will be as successful as the obvious recent achievements.”
Mr William’s comments cement a growing national confidence in Rochdale town centre, following the recent news that the borough’s council building, central library and customer service centre, Number one Riverside, will host the Natural History Museum’s famous Diplodocus dinosaur cast when it goes on a national tour for the first time.
The borough’s flagship regeneration scheme, the new shopping and leisure facility, Rochdale Riverside, has also taken a major step forward in recent weeks, with a detailed planning application being submitted to the council.
Councillor Jacqui Beswick, Deputy Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “There was some doubt around aspects of our regeneration plans, like the river re-opening, but I think it’s really exceeded people’s expectations. Lots of people have come to the town centre just to see it. I think people understand that we are building a better Rochdale town centre and we’ve got off to a cracking start.”
Michael Howarth, owner of new Rochdale wine bar, Vicolo Del Vino, said: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the river re-opening. It’s really improved the town centre. I’m doing much better than I expected to and now I’m looking into opening an additional business in the town centre.”