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Rochdale Town Centre

The vision for the Rochdale Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) is to transform a failing, retail dominated street into a vibrant area of mixed-use development that acknowledges and celebrates heritage.

The Rochdale HAZ is centred on Drake Street - the historic route from the railway station down to the Town Hall.

Tram lines running past the old Observer Building and clock
Tram lines running past the old Observer Building and clock © Touchstones (Rochdale Local Studies Centre)

The area originally developed as a commercial, cultural, social and civic focal point of the town and contains examples of impressive Georgian, Victorian and early 20th century architecture. It also has strong connections to the Cooperative Movement. 

Drake Street was once a bustling high street
Drake Street was once a bustling high street © Burnley Evening Post

Until the early 1980s the street was Rochdale's premier place to shop. However a series of local and national influences have affected the area and led to the decline of Drake Street. These include; competition with supermarkets, the development of near-by shopping centres and the general decline of retail in town centres resulting in empty or partly occupied buildings in the Drake Street area.

Deaf & Dumb Institute
The Grade II listed Deaf & Dumb Institute © Rochdale BC

Whilst parts of Rochdale town centre are currently being regenerated, the area proposed as the Heritage Action Zone has continued to decline. More than 30 buildings within the HAZ area are designated either locally or nationally for their heritage merit, but a large proportion of these buildings are in poor condition and are either vacant or do not have a sustainable end use.

The locally listed art deco offices of the Rochdale Observer
The locally listed art deco offices of the Rochdale Observer © Rochdale BC

These factors have led the Rochdale Town Centre Conservation Area to be placed on Historic England's 'Heritage At Risk' Register.

Get involved

The Heritage Action Zone engagement programme aims to bring together local businesses and residents together with the wider community in order to create a broader awareness of local heritage and provide support, opportunities and practical advice through various projects.

These include:

  • Heritage workshops
  • An exciting mural project
  • An events programme for the street
  • Heritage trails
  • Education projects

More information on these projects will be made available as they emerge. We hope to develop a Cooperative Enterprise Hub on Drake Street, which will also serve as a Heritage Action Zone office which will be a main base for further information.

The Former Butterworth’s Jewellers shop on Drake Street
The Former Butterworth’s Jewellers shop on Drake Street

In summary

There is great potential for mixed use development that builds on the area's history of independent shops and finds new uses for larger properties that punctuate the street. The HAZ aims to create a strong vision for the area, galvanising property owners and partners so that this historic gateway will become a pioneering and affordable area for town centre living - with a new focus on the town's emerging leisure and cultural heritage sector. Rebalancing the town centre will introduce new uses for sites around Drake Street, particularly residential and leisure, to ensure that it is an attractive place to live, work, play and visit. Importantly the HAZ will also complement the council's plans as part of Rochdale's response to the Greater Manchester Mayor's 'town centre challenge'.

Partnership and cooperation

We are delighted to be working with our Heritage Action Zone partners in Rochdale:

  • Rochdale Borough Council
  • The Cooperative Heritage Trust
  • The Cooperative College
  • Rochdale Boroughwide Housing
  • Link4Life
  • Rochdale Development Company

Further interest

You could look up some of the many listed buildings in Rochdale by searching the National List.

If you have any old pictures of listed buildings in Rochdale, have you considered 'Enriching the list' ?

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    North West

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