A new community growing hub has been approved for land planned to become the huge Northern Roots eco park and urban farm in Oldham.
The council has given planning permission for the new base, which will include a polytunnel, allotments, as well as the proposed RHS Hampton garden and a pond and apiary.
It will replace the existing growing hub in Alexandra Park, which needs to be relocated to accommodate the new eco development at the depot.
The new space will be located south of the Grade Two-listed park, at the top end of the Snipe Clough land that is due to become the Northern Roots project, which will be developed across the 160 acres of woodland and greenspace.
It will also include an entrance building, toilets, a classroom and workshop, a ‘brew’ cabin for refreshments, some informal car parking provision and 18 cycle spaces on land at King’s Road.
The Snipe Clough site that will become a new Growing Hub in Oldham. Photo: Oldham council.
There will also be structures to enable growing and educational activities, including an outdoor oven, fire pit and seating area and a canopy structure.
“This application will provide Northern Roots with a hub serving as a community allotment and learning experience, to increase knowledge and skills in the local community which would include learning how to grow different foods, plants and the local ecology and wildlife,” supporting documents submitted with the application state.
“A key focus of the Growing Hub is to help the local community focus on mental and physical health.”
The documents state that many local residents have ‘turned their backs on the park because they perceive it to be unsafe’.
The Northern Roots project aims to counter this by acting as a ‘large scale demonstrator of how the natural environment can be harnessed and enhanced’.
An indicative image of the polytunnel at the Growing Hub in Oldham. Photo: Oldham council.
Northern Roots plans to be a ‘productive eco-park’, looking to benefit and inspire the residents and communities of Oldham whilst becoming an ‘asset for Greater Manchester’ and a site of national importance.
“It will be a productive park that uses pioneering methods, new technologies and approaches for food production and food enterprise,” the report adds.
The site will be split into commercial, edible and non-edible growing zones, sports facilities and woodland discovery.
“The Growing Hub proposals therefore help progress Northern Roots, turning the vision into reality and providing a permanent base for local communities to come learn about food and plant production,” the report states.
The new hub will also be placed at the end of a new ‘fruit route’ near to the site.
This uses parks, footpaths and cycleways across the borough to enable patches of land and hedgerows along the route to be planted with fruiting trees and bushes – creating a ‘pick as you go’ network.
The current Alexandra Park hub was originally started as an NHS initiative in 2008 and then transferred to Oldham council ownership.
The council granted planning permission for the new growing hub at the end of December.
The plans for the new Growing Hub in Oldham. Photo: Oldham Council.