Oldham Council has unveiled plans to transform the Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre and save the town centre and kickstart recovery.
Lots of ideas and suggestions from residents, businesses and market traders put forward through recent consultations are embedded in the redesign to help change the future of the building and support the town centre and local economy to recover.
They include requests for more things for all ages to do and see – including food, drink, leisure and entertainment – as well as a better retail offer.
A sustainable future for Tommyfield Market
The existing market hall is no longer fit for purpose and traders have been clear about the importance of a brand new Tommyfield Market which maximises footfall, access to the adjacent car parks and public transport stops.
The new market stretches from Town Square, through the former TJ Hughes Unit and extends into Parliament Square.
This new location offers enhanced visibility in the heart of the town centre, with direct access to both the shopping centre and the Old Town Hall.
Entering it from inside the shopping centre, you’ll find a retail market and a wide range of services at mall level while downstairs, linking to Parliament Square, a food court will be created where you can enjoy food and drink from an array of Tommyfield traders.
This area will also feature two flexible spaces which can be used for things like live cooking demos, pop-ups, small exhibitions, family activities and market events.
Culture, leisure and entertainment
Oldham Council proposes to create a separate larger split-level events venue above the new market hall which can be used for private and public functions and will feature roof-top views of the borough.
This new venue, which could host anything from live gigs to weddings, festivals and conferences, will sit on the floors above Town Square and can be accessed at both street and mall level.
Thanks to its location at one end of the building, the new events space and market can operate later than the rest of the shopping centre to boost Oldham’s leisure and entertainment offer and our night-time economy.
The council is also developing a new ‘open to the public’ archive to showcase artefacts from its arts and heritage services and make them easier to access than ever before.
A multi-use centre with improved retail
In the Spindles area, the council will condense the retail offer – with downstairs becoming the main shopping hub, flowing into Town Square and towards the new Tommyfield Market.
On the upper floor there will be a flexible contemporary workspace to appeal to new entrepreneurs and growing sectors like creative design and media. This project, along with the relocation of Tommyfield Market, is being supported by a successful funding bid to the Government’s Towns Fund.
The new co-working space will sit beside new offices for Oldham Council staff which could extend to the floor above which is predominantly unused. By creating new council offices, it will enable us to vacate the Civic Centre and look at repurposing this for an alternative use in the future, such as new town centre homes.
Oldham Council’s investment in Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre is central to its Creating a Better Place regeneration strategy, enabling them to unlock brownfield sites for new homes and public open space and supports commitment to protecting the greenbelt from development. It will also deliver savings for the council by cutting overheads from things like the existing market hall and civic centre.
Cllr Arooj Shah, Oldham Council Leader and Cabinet member for Economic and Social Reform, said: “We are delighted to launch these initial plans which give a flavour of what Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre could look like and offer in the future.
“The way we shop has changed over the years and the pandemic has sadly accelerated the changing face of the high street across the UK – making the need for investment more important than ever.
“But the redevelopment is not just about shiny new buildings. It underpins our Creating a Better Place regeneration strategy by enabling the wider regeneration of Oldham and supporting the borough’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It will help to get a wider footfall back in the town centre while releasing sites like the Civic Centre and existing market hall for redevelopment – in turn protecting our greenbelt by putting brownfield first. And in doing that we can create over 2,000 new homes, 1,000 jobs and 100 apprenticeships when they are much-needed.”
The concepts have been designed following a recent community consultation with views and comments directly feeding into the plans. More than 2,000 people had their say and shared their ideas for the future of the centre.
Cllr Arooj Shah added: “Your suggestions were invaluable in helping us get to where we are today. You told us you want key retailers, small independents, culture, leisure, entertainment and things to do with family and friends.
“We’re working hard to deliver that for you and are committed to bringing you on the journey with us every step of the way.
The concepts will be discussed by Oldham Council’s cabinet on Monday, July 26 when they will consider progressing the next phase of the centre’s redevelopment ahead of a more detailed planning application later this year.