Rochdale's Castleton improvement scheme branded 'not fair' on rest … – Rochdale Online

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Date published: 18 September 2023
Photo: Rochdale Borough Council/Crown
The proposed boundary of the Castleton property improvement scheme in red, alongside conservation areas
Rochdale Council’s property improvement plan for Castleton has been criticised for not being offered to businesses in other areas of the borough.
The scheme aims to improve the visual appearance of businesses in Castleton by offering to fund repairs and refurbishments, as well as converting upper floor spaces into residential areas.
Regeneration works in Castleton are currently ongoing as part of the council’s plans to offer new and improved housing in the area and promote the site as an attractive place to live with links to Manchester city centre via Castleton railway station.
Castleton is a historic former industrial hub with an economy which was previously built around cotton mills and manufacturing.
It was confirmed at the South Township Committee meeting on 13 September that an audit of businesses in Castleton has been commissioned and council officers are set to draw up proposals and costs for the redevelopment which could provide a major uplift for the area.
However, a Conservative member of the committee questioned whether the plan is fair to businesses in other areas of Rochdale which are also in need of improvement.
Councillor Stephen Anstee, the council’s Shadow Portfolio Holder for Highways and Facilities who represents the Bamford ward, said: “While I agree this is good for Castleton, I think this is not fair for other wards.
“It doesn’t seem right that a business around the corner does not receive the same level of council support. I don’t know whether that sends the right message.”
The repairs are expected to increase the number of people visiting the area and encourage more people to consider living there, supplementing the Rail Corridor Strategy in Rochdale which is focused on creating new homes near to transport links and businesses.
Labour and Co-operative Councillor Daniel Meredith, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Housing, explained why Castleton was chosen for the scheme, and suggested there could be more funding for other areas of Rochdale.
He said: “It is to do with the heritage of the area more than anything else. I can have a look at getting further funding and then looking at other areas.”
Labour and Co-operative Councillor Elsie Blundell added: “There’s a lot of housing in that area so I think the scheme represents a tremendous uplift for Castleton.”
Funding for the regeneration project will be taken from the Castleton Bee Network Scheme and Rail Corridor Strategy budgets.
Paul Moore, Assistant Director of Economy at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Regeneration schemes like this one have taken place across the borough in recent years, with council funded business rates reduction schemes and shop renovation schemes already having been delivered in Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton town centres. In addition to this, we have developed town centre masterplans for Heywood, Middleton and Littleborough.
“Castleton has also been identified as an area which would benefit from additional investment and is being regenerated as part of our wider rail strategy to support areas around our key transport hubs. Surveys have identified that focusing resources on these key gateway areas will have a significant impact. The project would also support the restoration of buildings within the Castleton south conservation area, which is on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register.
“We are still determining what the Castleton scheme will look like, but we will be working with councillors and businesses in the coming months to get their views, as it begins to take shape.
“Both the council and RDA have a number of support schemes available for local businesses across the borough and we are always keen to hear from councillors, businesses and residents who would like to know more about how we can support them.”
Declan Carey, Local Democracy Reporting Service
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