Construction of a new ‘eco-centre’ in Oldham which will see the demolition of an ageing council depot is planned to begin next year.
The depot at Alexandra Park is to be replaced with an ‘environmental centre of excellence’ that will utilise green technology, including solar power and biomass heating.
Under the banner of the ‘Alexandra Park Eco Centre’, the town hall aims for it to build on activities already taking place in the park and the existing five community growing hubs.
The depot within the Grade Two listed park off King Street is used as the base for the council’s environmental services.
Members of the overview and scrutiny committee were told this week that pending planning and full council approval, building work is due to start on the site this time next year.
And completion of the new eco centre is aimed at mid-2021.
Together with the Northern Roots project, it forms part of the council’s vision to embed environmentalism within Oldham town centre.
There would be ‘state of the art’ glasshouses, which would be fed by recycled water, as well as green walls for the new offices and stores area.
It would also become a demonstrator site giving residents more opportunities to get involved in growing projects.
In an update to councillors, director of the Northern Roots project Anna da Silva said: “This shouldn’t just be a closed off depot for the use of council staff, but actually it should be a demonstrative site for all sorts of different environmental technologies and new growing projects.
“We’re going to showcase as many different forms of green technology as possible, showcasing all of Oldham’s work and its aspiration to be an environmental trailblazer.”
The new base would be able to support the authority’s ‘Get Oldham Working’ programme.
And work related activities with Oldham College and other educational providers surrounding horticultural and environmental skills would also be factored in.
The brief is currently out to tender for designers and architects.
The report to scrutiny states: “When combined with proposals for the Eco-centre, Northern Roots presents a significant opportunity to further develop and establish Oldham as a green and growing city for the benefit of residents, Greater Manchester and beyond.”
A decision about what to do with the Gardener’s Lodge in the park is also expected by ‘late 2020’ according to officers.