Massive development site spanning Rochdale, Bury and Oldham is 'Manchester's greatest development opportunity'

Today’s big event at MIPIM, 'Manchester's Smart Growth Area', is likely to draw a crowd. Indeed, national news crews have already arrived. The Northern Gateway is not only the largest plot of land developable land in Greater Manchester (post-GMSF), but in the entire of the North of England.  

The video that is to be shown at MIPIM before the panellists come to the stage can be seen above (the live stream can be found here from 11.30am).

It's a once in a life time opportunity for North East Greater Manchester to get back on its feet

We should remember, before getting too excited, that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) is still out for consultation, spurred on by Mayor Andy Burnham and his ‘radical re-write’, but if the councils have their way the 3,500 acre site will provide 2.7 million square feet of employment space, 40,000 jobs and 10,000 new homes. It could revitalise the post-industrial mill town’s relationship with the surrounding regions once more. 

What is significant about today? This will be the first time that developers and council officials talk about the development in a public forum, though they are keen to get across that this is very much part of the on-going public consultation. Businesses, of course, form one of the cohorts that are contributing toward the consultation. 

The panel is made up of Steve Rumbelow, CEO of Rochdale Council, David Russel of Russel Construction (who seem to be dominating Manchester’s construction skyline) and Property Alliance Group, Chris Cheap from Avison Young, Jonathan Miley from Exterior Architects and Stephen Holt from JLL.  

Northern Gateway Rochdale
The massive 3,500 site crosses the boundaries of three councils: Rochdale, Bury and Oldham

John Searle, the CEO of Rochdale Development Agency, a major stakeholder in the area, said: “I’ve been involved in Heywood’s industrial development for years and have seen its success. I am excited by the prospect of the GMSF allowing business to grow in the area. The scale of the site is a once in a life time opportunity for North East Greater Manchester to get back on its feet.” 

The reason the delegates are here at MIPIM today is to test the water on an international stage and to help attract the capital and businesses required if the site is released for development. There are, of course, people who are against the green belt changes, but talking to the business community here at MIPIM there is a buzz around the potential scale and how that differentiates it from what else is on offer.  

If the GMSF consultations doesn’t railroad the plans, there won’t be another development like it in the country.   

Sean Fielding, the 29-year-old leader of Oldham Council said: “the Northern Gateway is possibly the biggest opportunity in the north of England. I am sick and tired of the North East of Greater Manchesyer and Oldham being left behind at a time when central Manchester is booming - the Northern Gateway is real opportunity to turn this around.”    

I am aware that government departments have shown interest in the site because the scale of the opportunity creates a different conversation with global businesses looking to locate to the UK. Having said all this, there is clear worry that the site and the game changing opportunity might be lost. 

READ: MIPIM: Introducing Manchester University’s new £1.5bn 'Innovation District'

John Blundell is our man at MIPIM, a Labour councillor for Smallbridge and Firgrove, and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business, Skills & Employment on Rochdale Council. He is a graduate of Economics from the University of Manchester and was elected to Rochdale Council at just 20 years old.