John Barton, BC Real Estate
As a director at BC Real Estate, John Barton has first hand experience of Rochdale’s renaissance. He has seen the success of Rochdale’s major business parks and the jobs and investment they have brought to the town.
“Together the town’s business parks create thousands of jobs and add millions of pounds to the local economy,” he says. “Kingsway Business Park is the jewel in the crown, a 420 acre site sitting on Junction 21 of the M62. It’s one of the best performing business parks in the North of England.”
John is a specialist in industrial and warehouse property and development in the North West of England, and thinks Rochdale is doing everything right to attract businesses to the area.
“The town is playing to its strengths,” he says. “Rochdale has made itself an ideal location for manufacturing and logistics businesses looking for good transport links, a wide choice of affordable property and a large labour pool.”
As a Rochdale resident, John is also aware of how the success of Rochdale’s well equipped and ideally located business parks is translating into a better town for everyone. “All this activity on the outskirts of the Borough provides customers with cash in their pockets for the town centre’s new businesses,” he says. “Rochdale town centre is a far livelier and more interesting place than I’ve ever known it to be, and I’ve lived here most of my life.”
John cites new food and drink businesses in the centre of town as evidence of this progress, and is looking forward to the opening of the multi-million pound Rochdale Riverside scheme next year. “Riverside is a major mixed retail and leisure development and will only add to Rochdale’s growing reputation - unthinkable a decade ago - as a thriving leisure and nightlife destination.”
Rochdale is making the most of its town centre with a £250 million regeneration programme. The river has been opened up and transport links greatly improved. Work will soon begin on the restoration of Rochdale’s magnificent Victorian Grade I listed Town Hall. John thinks all this effort is having a knock-on effect: “I live in Rochdale’s suburbs and find myself coming into town in the evening much more now than I ever used to. There’s choice today when before there was none. Ambitious new businesses have made everyone up their game.”
Rochdale has growing high tech and creative sectors, and plans are in place to provide more space for these types of businesses. But along with that, logistics and manufacturing (often advanced manufacturing) will continue to drive Rochdale’s economy for years to come.
“The priority should be to expand our excellent business parks where that is possible, and also exploit the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - a scheme that allows for the commercial use of brownfield and limited stretches of greenbelt land for homes and businesses,” says John.
In the meantime, there is still units to be let and space to be filled. The success Rochdale has had by focusing on its business parks is all too evident in its bustling, newly confident town centre.