Heritage sites revamped as town centre transformation continues

Posted by on 25 Jun 2021

Image: Heritage sites revamped as town centre transformation continues

A historic pocket of Rochdale town centre has been given a new lease of life as part of public realm improvements across the area.

The project at Bull Brow and Butts Avenue, delivered by Rochdale Development Agency on behalf of the council, has included the repair of the historic paving stones, while planters have been installed to give the area a fresh new look.

Businesses in the area, including La Mancha tapas bar and Vicolo Del Vino wine bar have also benefitted from brand new outdoor seating, with additional benches installed for people passing through.

Festoon and feature lighting has also been introduced to boost evening dining and create a welcoming environment in this historic site, which is in the town centre conservation area.

The new street furniture incorporates symbols of bulls in a nod to the area’s name, which is believed to originate from the annual bull baiting festival which took place in the River Roch. Other accounts suggest it was so named because bulls would be taken through Bull Brow to the town’s slaughterhouse in Bull Yard.

Paul Fearnley, owner of La Mancha Tapas bar, said: “There have been some major changes in the wider town centre and it’s great to see that attention is also being paid to the smaller pockets.

“It’s a lovely little historic area around the Butts and Bull Brow and I really like the way the design incorporates the area’s unique heritage.

“My customers have already started using the new seating outside and I’m sure they’ll use it more and more as it we get further into summer and pepple are getting out and about more. It’s really looking 100 per cent in this area now and I love it.”

The project is part of a wider public realm scheme in Rochdale town centre, which aims to complement the area’s ongoing £400m transformation.

Other areas to have benefited from revamps in recent years include the Bell Street area off Baillie Street, which faces Reel Cinema in the Rochdale Riverside complex. The site, which was neglected and overgrown, is now fully landscaped, with a giant mural featuring residents’ artwork, which was created as part of a giant community art project.

More than a dozen murals are also dotted around the town centre, following a festival in 2018, which saw international muralists, Nomad Clan, bring in fellow artists from around the globe to create giant pieces of art on the side of buildings across the town centre.

Councillor John Blundell cabinet member for regeneration and communications at Rochdale Borough Council and RDA board member, said: “The £400m regeneration programme has made a huge difference to Rochdale town centre and transformed the whole area, but if you want to attract visitors and businesses, brand new businesses and attractions aren’t going to cut it on their own; you need attractive public spaces where people want to relax and spend quality time.

“We’ve set the bar really high with our regeneration programme and we’ve done the same with our public realm. This scheme really sets off this historic part of town and the outdoor seating will be a welcome support to the businesses in the area.”

Just across the road, on the other side of the river, traditional shop fronts on South Parade and Lower Drake Street are also being reinstated as part of the Heritage Action Zone initiative, funded by the council, Historic England and the property owners.

Along with the Bull Brow and Butts Avenue project, the two schemes represent a £1.2m investment in the area.

The project, which was a finalist in the fostering a healthy high street category in the place making planning awards 2021, will see traditional shop fronts being introduced to better reflect the character of the buildings, some of which date back to the early 19th century. Vital roof repairs will also take place, while original sash windows will be repaired or replaced.

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