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Plans for transformation of Spindles shopping centre revealed

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 8:02am

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

View from Parliament Square showing exterior of new Tommyfield Market and events space. Photo: AEW Architects.

Chiefs in Oldham have unveiled plans for the transformation of Spindles Shopping Centre including a new food hall as part of the relocated Tommyfield Market and an events venue.

The council bought the Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre last year for £9.5m which was described by then leader Sean Fielding as an ‘absolute bargain’.

Following feedback from residents, businesses and market traders the town hall has revealed how the centre is to be redesigned to help support the town centre.

This will see Tommyfield Market relocated from its existing site on Henshaw Street into a space in Spindles that stretches from Town Square, through the former TJ Hughes Unit and extends into Parliament Square.

Bosses say the space will be ‘completely redeveloped’ to provide a ‘purpose-built’ new market.

It will include a retail market, accessed from inside the shopping centre at the mall level, and on the ground floor linked to Parliament Square a new food hall is proposed to be created featuring food and drink from Tommyfield traders.

Tommyfield Market - lower level, food court. Photo: AEW Architects. 

The council says that this area will also feature two flexible spaces which could be used for events such as live cooking demonstrations, pop-ups, small exhibitions, family activities and market events.

Above the new market hall, the authority says it is proposing to create a larger, split-level events venue which will be used for private and public functions.

It will also feature ‘roof-top views’ across the borough.

Bosses say that the new events space and market will be able to operate later than the rest of the shopping centre to boost the town’s leisure and night-time economy.

A new public archive area is also being developed which will exhibit artefacts from the council’s arts and heritage services.

This will be displayed partly in the new space on Town Square, and also in a newly created archive within one of the multi-storey car park levels.

Within the main shopping centre, the retail offer is to be ‘condensed’ into the downstairs to become the main shopping hub.

The council intends to re-purpose space on the upper floor to create a ‘flexible contemporary workspace to appeal to new entrepreneurs and growing sectors like creative design and media’.

The new co-working space will sit beside new offices for Oldham council staff which could extend to the floor above.

Bosses say that currently this third floor is predominantly unused and largely ‘hidden’ from public view.

New office space on upper mall of Spindles. Photo: AEW Architects. 

This would lead to council staff vacating the towering Civic Centre, and allow them to look to re-purpose this site for an alternative use in the future, such as new town centre homes.

Both the offices plan, and the relocation of Tommyfield Market, are being supported by £24.5m of cash from the government’s Towns Fund.

Council leader Arooj Shah said: “We are delighted to launch these initial plans which give a flavour of what Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre could look like and offer in the future.

“The way we shop has changed over the years and the pandemic has sadly accelerated the changing face of the high street across the UK – making the need for investment more important than ever.

“But the redevelopment is not just about shiny new buildings. It underpins our Creating a Better Place regeneration strategy by enabling the wider regeneration of Oldham and supporting the borough’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Oldham council is leading by example – investing in our town for our residents and businesses.

“It will help to get a wider footfall back in the town centre while releasing sites like the Civic Centre and existing market hall for redevelopment – in turn protecting our greenbelt by putting brownfield first.

“And in doing that we can create over 2,000 new homes, 1,000 jobs and 100 apprenticeships when they are much-needed.”

The plan will be discussed by cabinet on July 26, where councillors will consider progressing the next phase of the centre’s redevelopment ahead of a more detailed planning application later this year.

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