The decline of Oldham’s manufacturing economy has left the town with a considerable number of mill buildings and structures which are remnants of the largely lost age of textile manufacture in the district. Many have been lost, as evidenced within the Landscape, but many remain and their future is often uncertain. By their scale, such buildings can be difficult and costly to maintain and, in most cases, their historic setting has been considerably compromised by clearance and insensitive development within their context.
The remaining textile mill stock is fundamental to the history and growth of the Borough given the key role it played in the industrial revolution. A number of mills across the Borough continue to provide low cost premises for certain employment uses and provide opportunities to provide modern day and fit for purpose employment premises through refurbishment or redevelopment. The existing mill stock can therefore clearly make a contribution to established economic sectors across Oldham, as well as future requirements in terms of new business start-ups capitalising on agglomeration benefits of wider Greater Manchester sector growth.
Oldham Council, in consultation with local communities has developed a bold regeneration strategy – Creating a Better Place will be at the heart of our recovery- and it will impact the whole borough. The redevelopment of the high street through the purchase of the main shopping centre will allow the Council to create a high street which is not just dependent on retail. Additionally, the remaining mills across Oldham provide ubiquitous reminders of the growth of the town during the industrial revolution as the main cotton spinning centre in Lancashire and the overwhelming majority of the mills remain in employment use in the present day, although they have been repurposed following the decline of the cotton spinning industry.
Additionally, our Town’s Fund Town Investment Plan includes:
• A new performance space
• new office space for entrepreneurs and growing sectors like creative design and media within Spindles
• Northern Roots - UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park.
However, current government funding is dominated by capital grants. There is a need to ensure that there is a robust programme of start-up and business growth support that can be made available to local citizens to ensure a pipeline of businesses that can be anchored within the refurbished mills and the newly designed town centre. The development of incubator and managed workspace is key to creating the appropriate offer and facilities, but support is required to increase entrepreneurship and support innovation and our economic resilience.
The Regional analysis helps highlight the opportunities in using mills to deliver this regeneration plan. The Regional Action Plan will take key learning from the FOUNDATION project and apply that to help us move forward with our ambitions.
You can read the complete analysis here.