SCHOOLCHILDREN joined Oldham Play Action Group and Oldham Council Leader, Arooj Shah, yesterday to take part in a morning of eco-friendly themed activities to mark the opening of our town centre’s new Hilton Square.
The event marked the completion of the council’s project to create a greener and more accessible town centre, just in time for summer.
The works have been underway since January 2022, with significant improvements made to make the town centre safer, easier to navigate and a more pleasant environment for pedestrians, wheelchair users, cyclists, and people with prams and buggies.
The improvements have been made to Henshaw Street, Albion Street and the top of Curzon Street – which will now be known as Hilton Square. The space has been named after the Hilton Arcade, which was constructed in 1893 and was officially opened by Cllr Shah during yesterday’s event.
As part of the opening children from Beever Primary School were invited to plant some verbena in the new beds with the council’s environment team; learn more about the sustainability of the project; and take part in some crafts with Oldham Play Action Group.
Pupils were also taught about the importance of recycling water and brought a container of recycled water to water the newly installed trees, shrubs and plants – with the message that, if we all do small things, it can lead to a bigger impact to the environment.
Councillor Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “I was delighted to officially open Hilton Square yesterday, particularly meeting local children and learning more about how, together, we can all help the environment.
“The improvements to this key space right in the heart of our town centre will make it easier for people to walk or cycle, reducing the reliance on cars, as well as creating a pleasant space for people to meet and spend time.
“Although only a small part of our wider ambitions, these works will also contribute towards our goal of being the greenest borough in Greater Manchester, and becoming a carbon neutral borough by 2030. It’s great to see our town centre becoming a cleaner and greener space and being enjoyed by our young people.”
As part of the development, rainwater systems have been installed within the newly formed landscaped areas. This approach not only contributes to reducing flooding but also enhances the overall sustainability of the project.
The next phase of the work has already started on West Street, where improvements will be made for pedestrians and cyclists to enter the town centre. As part of these works, more sustainable landscaping will be introduced – again, making Oldham a greener borough.
Isabella Bennet aged six, from Beever Primary School, was one of the children who took part in the activities yesterday.
She said: “I really enjoyed putting my own plant in the space and using the recycled rainwater to water the plant.”
Matas Drozdovas, also six, added: “The space is nice. I really liked making my badge and sunflower headband.”
These works are part of Oldham Council’s transformation of the town centre, to build a place where more people want to live, work, and raise a family.
The plans include a completely revamped Spindles with a brand-new home for Tommyfield Market; a food court and new offices; a restored Old Library with a community space, Council chamber and new home for Oldham Theatre Workshop; Northern Roots – the North’s biggest country park and urban farm – a new food hall in the Egyptian Room; a town centre park; a range of family homes and a brand new theatre to be the home for Oldham Coliseum.
The programme will also deliver 2,000 new homes designed for a range of different budgets and needs, 1,000 new jobs and 100 new apprenticeships.
For more information about the regeneration works taking place across Oldham, see the website and watch our fly-through video here.