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Northern Roots potential masterplan revealed

Friday, August 27th, 2021 12:51pm

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

Artist impression of Northern Roots project Snipe Clough.

A potential masterplan for a huge new eco park in Oldham – including outdoor natural swimming, glamping and a festival site – has been revealed.

The Northern Roots project is asking for public feedback on an ‘emerging vision’ for transforming 160 acres of land at Snipe Clough into the UK’s largest urban farm.

The site runs from the Grade Two listed Alexandra Park, past Park Bridge and down to Daisy Nook country park.

It will be one of four projects in the town partly funded by money received from the government; including £24.4m from the Towns Fund.

Northern Roots says that at this initial stage of the consultation none of the proposals are fixed and they want to hear from as many residents and communities as possible.

Feedback is ‘vital’ to revising the masterplan which will go out to further consultation in the autumn, and lead to a final masterplan to be included in the planning application for the site.

According to an interactive map of the site, the northern area nearest Alexandra Park could have an expanded car park, near to a new visitor centre and accessible parking.

Nearby there would be a market garden which is described as ten growing plots, each around one acre, with a polytunnel. 

There would also be a ‘high-tech food growing and alternative technology’ area, next to some proposed community gardens and a new garden centre which would grow and sell ornamental and edible plants.

In the north east of the site it is proposed to re-provide two lost sports pitches.

Towards the middle of the site would be an array of solar panels which would generate green energy to power the Northern Roots site and make the site carbon neutral.

There would also be a mini hydroelectric system demonstrating alternative green technologies.

In the centre, existing woodland would be retained and enhanced.

An initial masterplan for the Northern Roots site. Photo: Northern Roots.

In the furthest east section of the site is a proposed bike hub, which could potentially include a pump and dual track, skills area, and a bike hire station with a shop and cafe as well as a bike repair workshop, toilets and bike wash.

A new swimming and fishing pond is being floated on scrubland north of the proposed learning centre.

Initial feedback from the consultation shows some residents are in favour of the idea, while others have concerns about the impact on wildlife and it being a possible ‘health and safety minefield’.

The learning centre is proposed to be in the centre of the site, and possible ideas suggest it could include classrooms, a training kitchen, outdoor teaching spaces, and in the nearby surroundings a forest school and a camping area. 

There would be separate parking proposed to serve the learning centre and bike hub.

Further south are proposed pens for livestock and poultry, including for chickens, pigs and cattle.

The existing pond in the central southern area near St Martin’s School is proposed to have its decking refurbished and new ponds created around it.

A ‘festival field’ is proposed in the western edge as a space for weddings, markets and festivals.

To the east would be enhanced routes for cycling, walking and horse riding along with the creation of new ponds and habitats to improve biodiversity.

In the south west there are proposed mountain biking routes and adventure play for families. 

At the southernmost point in the site there could be dedicated trails for horse riders with possible some ‘natural jumps’. 

There are two initial consultation events taking place in September, on September 4 from 11am to 3pm at Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre outside Debenhams.

A second event will take place at on September 16 from 3pm to 7.30pm at Alexandra Park Depot on Kings Road.

People can view the digital map and give their views at https://app.placechangers.co.uk/campaign/200/overview 

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