Councillors have given the green light to multi-million plans to transform Spindles Shopping Centre and create a new market and food court.
A meeting of Oldham's planning committee on Wednesday night saw members vote on proposals to redevelop the building, which the council purchased in 2020 for £9.5m.
The plans lodged by the local authority will see Tommyfield market relocated, offices created in the upper floors for council staff, as well as an events venue, heritage space, and food court.
Chris Sinton, the agent for the application, said: “These comprehensive regeneration proposals, which reinvigorate existing buildings and re-use previously developed land in a highly accessible location will secure a number of social, environmental and economic benefits, both during construction and operation.
“Spindles Town Square has been at the heart of the community for 40 years and these proposals will ensure it remains there for many generations to come.”
He said the development would create new jobs, and bring footfall back into the town centre.
The report to the committee states that the development will be able to accommodate 1,750 full time jobs once completed, generating around £83 million.
It will also see Tommyfield Market relocated into the shopping centre in a new purpose built space from its existing location on Henshaw Street.
Planning permission was granted for the demolition of the TJ Hughes unit in the shopping centre earlier this year, which will be replaced by the new market.
The replacement unit will extend into Parliament Square, with an entrance created to the new split-level market.
A CGI of the new market in Spindles. Image: Oldham Council.
Planning officer Graham Dickman said the new market entrance would change the current ‘uninviting’ layout.
“You’ll be able to emerge straight through onto Parliament Square which should be a major enhancement for that area,” he added.
“To bring more life into this area there is obviously an intention to open up those spaces.
“This is a clearly positive development for the town centre.”
It will have a food court, as well as a dedicated retail market linked to the shopping mall.
The produce market will continue to be open from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, and from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
However it is ‘envisaged’ that the food court would be open from 11am to 11pm daily.
Under the future plans the old market on Henshaw Street will be demolished and replaced with housing and a new 5.7 acre town centre park.
An events space will be built above the new market, bringing a new venue for private and public functions and community use to the heart of the town centre.
This would replace the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and be used for functions including weddings, conferences, live music, parties, election counts and exhibitions.
Head of planning Peter Richards said the events venue would have a maximum capacity of 1,000 standing, 750 layout for theatre and 500 for a ‘cabaret’ style layout.
It would include a bar and kitchen facilities, and have a ‘culturally sensitive’ design.
Mr Dickman said that a facility for a roof terrace would also be provided on part of the new building.
The event space is proposed to be open from 9am until midnight and would have its own security separate from the shopping centre so it could be used out of daytime hours.
Under the plans the upper mall floorspace would be converted into ‘flexible high quality’ offices, which will include co-working spaces, and there would also be solar panels mounted on the roof.
Bosses have stated that council staff will be moved from the Civic Centre offices into the new Spindles site, freeing up the old council HQ site for redevelopment.
There will be an internal cycle hub in the building as well as showers to encourage people to cycle to work.
The authority says the proposals will help save more than £8m over the next four years by reducing corporate landlord and a backlog of maintenance costs.
A CGI of the redeveloped Spindles from Parliament Square. Image: Oldham Council.
A former Town Square shop and a section of the car park would be turned into a new archive and heritage space to publicly exhibit Oldham’s artefacts and museum archives that are not currently on display.
This area would be in place of the proposed use of the former historic library building on Union Street as a heritage centre.
The ground floor of Spindles will continue to house the ‘core offer’ of shopping and retail units.
The works to transform the shopping centre are being ‘partially financed’ from £12m of government Towns Fund grant funding.
Initially a plan set into motion by former leader Sean Fielding, the redevelopment masterplan was continued under the leadership of Arooj Shah and continues Councillor Amanda Chadderton heading up the town hall.
There were no public objections or messages of support lodged against the application.
Councillor Ruji Surjan said: “As the ward member which this falls into I welcome the plans that have been put forward.”
The application was approved unanimously by councillors.