Vibrant district town centres also key to post-COVID recovery

Liberal Democrat Councillors have called for the new Local Plan to have as a core objective ‘the creation and maintenance of vibrant district centres in each of our traditional townships’.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Main Opposition Group, said: “Oldham’s Labour Council seems to be completely fixated upon regenerating Oldham town centre, with the other townships, Chadderton, Failsworth, Greenfield, Lees, Royton, and Uppermill, and my own Shaw and Crompton, hardly getting a look in.

Howard Sykes at the former Crompton Baths site

“After COVID, more people are visiting their local high street to shop, meet with friends for lunch, or to socialise over a drink”, added Councillor Sykes. “We need to invest in our district shopping centres to make them attractive and vibrant, with a variety of inviting and accessible shops and leisure outlets catering for both the daytime and night-time trade”.

“We recognise that each centre is different, one size doesn’t fit all – for example in Shaw we have been calling for the establishment of an artisan market selling a range of locally-sourced goods – but they all need investment.”

The Liberal Democrats also want to see a commitment in the Local Plan to invest in three new health facilities for Shaw and Crompton, Saddleworth and Chadderton.

“Labour’s Places for Everyone plan will mean 3,000 more homes, and thousands of more residents, for Shaw and Crompton, and our current outdated health centre simply cannot cope. We have seen a brand-new facility in neighbouring Royton, and the residents of Shaw and Crompton deserve the same. Local Councillors have been calling for years for a new health centre and once again in our alternate budget this year we found the money to provide it, but still we wait.”

Councillor Sykes is also concerned about the Council’s inaction over bringing long-term empty and derelict buildings in town centres back into use.

“In Shaw town centre, we have the former Butterworths electrical store, Post Office, Midland Bank, and the St Paul’s Church site, all of which lie empty, and most are a blight on our town centre. We need a plan to bring them back into use, possibly as housing as they are all within walking distance of the Metrolink stop so ideal for commuters.”

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