Last year Oldham Council purchased the Spindles Shopping Centre in the middle of the town from investor Kennedy Wilson, an effort to kick-start the area’s regeneration efforts.
We’ve seen this in other Greater Manchester towns recently too, where councils are looking to regain control of their town centres from developers, and renovate to bring people back into shopping areas.
This week has seen Oldham Council unveil its designs for the Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre, plans which include a new market hall, flexible offices, event space and a heritage archive.
One of the biggest changes to the town will be a new Tommyfield Market, where the existing hall and location of the historic market has been deemed no longer fit for purpose.
The new Tommyfield Market will extend from Town Square into the new Parliament Square, offering enhanced visibility and better access between the refurbished Town Hall and the shopping centre.
There’s set to be a large retail market at the entrance, with a Food Hall linking to Parliament Square and the soon-to-be complete Egyptian Rooms food market in the basement of the Town Hall. Inside the food hall area would also be two flexible spaces that could host cooking demonstrations, small exhibitions and family activities.
Above the market hall would be a large split-level events venue. Oldham Council said that area would be available for private and public events, including conferences, weddings, festivals and more.
The events venue would offer roof-top views of the borough and be able to be accessed at both street and mall levels. Because it would be located at the end of the building it could operate for longer hours than the rest of the shopping centre.
A new space on Town Square would showcase artefacts from Oldham’s arts and heritage services. The council’s proposals also call for a lower-level archive to be built within one of the multi-storey car park levels.
In the Spindles, the plan is to condense the amount of retail by making the downstairs area the main shopping hub and repurposing the upper levels. The downstairs area would let out into Town Square and towards Tommyfield Market.
The upper floor areas would become a flexible workspace, including a relocation of council staff offices in an effort to help the council vacate the Civic Centre and open that area up for new development.
The plans will be discussed at Oldham Council’s cabinet meeting next week and if the cabinet approves the proposals, a more detailed planning application to support them will be submitted later this year.
Money for the projects comes from the £24.4m Oldham received from the Towns Fund, part of Oldham’s ‘Creating a Better Place‘ strategy that aims to create more than 2,000 new homes, 100 apprenticeship opportunities and 1,000 new jobs.