Rochdale Heritage Action Zone

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. 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.  

On this page:

Black and white photo of Drake Street, Rochdale. Pavements are busy with pedestrian shoppers. Clothing suggests photo may be taken in 1960s.
Drake Street was once a bustling high street © Burnley Evening Post
Tram lines running past the old Observer Building and clock in Rochdale. Vehicles in the picture are all horse drawn.
Tram lines running past the old Observer Building and clock in Rochdale © Touchstones (Rochdale Local Studies Centre)

Drake Street's decline

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.

Empty or partly occupied buildings in the Drake Street area include the Institute for the Deaf and the art deco offices of the Rochdale Observer.

The Grade II listed Institute for the Deaf, Rochdale. Brick building with blue door, window frames and gables.
The Grade II listed Institute for the Deaf, Rochdale © Rochdale Borough Council
The locally listed art deco offices of the Rochdale Observer
The locally listed art deco offices of the Rochdale Observer © Rochdale Borough Council

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

Getting involved

The HAZ engagement programme will aim to bring together local businesses and residents along 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 a series of heritage workshops, an exciting mural project, an events programme for the street, heritage trails and a number of 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 HAZ office which will be a main base for further information.

Three story red brick building curved around a corner. The Former Butterworth’s Jewellers shop on Drake Street, Rochdale.
The Former Butterworth’s Jewellers shop on Drake Street © Historic England

Looking ahead

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 galvanise property owners and partners so that this historic gateway will become a pioneering and affordable area for town centre living. The area's new focus will be 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 HAZ partners in Rochdale:

Further interest

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