Published November 14, 2019 at 14:34
A fact-finding tour of Manchester’s Trafford towns gave some inspiration for the regeneration of Bacup town centre.
The ‘seeing is believing’ tour was organised by Rossendale Council’s Economic Development Unit in conjunction with IntoPlaces, a consultancy borne out of the team that led Altrincham Forward.
Council representatives, along with residents from business, heritage and the community, hopped on a bus to visit Urmston and Altrincham.
They met Kay Johnston, McGoff Project Manager, at the site of what will become the new Market 41 in Urmston.
She explained that the vacant site used to house a traditional outdoor market, but it was now being redeveloped to provide an indoor food hall setting with food and drink stalls and a central dining area.
In Altrincham, Into Places Matt Colledge, Penny Bell and Sonia Cubrilo led groups on a tour of the town.
The Rossendale visitors got to experience the revived covered market, which still has a traditional outdoor feel, the linked hugely popular indoor food hall and smaller outdoor market.
They met with business owner Martin Duff and artist Jo Cushing, who leads a community arts and wellbeing project in what was a large vacant unit.
Chair of Bacup Vision 2040 Simon Dalley said:
Small things make a huge difference, like the music in the market area in Altrincham – it gives the market energy and makes it welcoming.
I really liked the community art hub and how everyone was saying that a fundamental start to the redevelopment of Altrincham came from the community.
What is important now is getting everyone from the community involved in driving the regeneration of Bacup.
He praised the market food hall where there was a diverse range of ages from pensioners to young families and every seat was taken with more people standing and soaking up the atmosphere.
His views were echoed by the youngest visitor on the trip Leon Dalley, 10, who said: “If Bacup market was like this, I would go there all the time.”
Penny Bell, a Director from IntoPlaces who organised the tour for the Bacup visitors said: “It was great to hear about Bacup’s exciting plans for the future and meet some of the enthusiastic people involved.”
Owner of independent retailer Randalls Jewellers Martin Duff explained how a loan scheme, run by the community, helped businesses to establish and also provided ambassadors as mentors to assist the fledgling businesses.
Bacup Pride chair Pat Smith was keen to see that local businesses were supporting planters and public realm improvements in Altrincham centre.
Bacup Now Chair and member of Bacup Vision 2040 Barry Hyde said:
The visit has been fantastic. The food hall and the market are a mixture of traditional and artisan and I like the idea that the businesses helped to provide funding for arts festivals.
A community arts hub is something I can see working in Bacup because we have many local artists in this area.
IntoPlaces director Penny added:
Whilst Altrincham and Urmston are different size towns with different catchments, the challenges faced were very similar – high vacancy rates, negative perceptions and non-use by local people, lack of investor and business confidence, markets that were no longer meeting requirements, neglected and dilapidated heritage buildings.
We wanted to show some key areas on our journey, give some insights into the projects and people that helped to turn things round and hopefully provide the visitors with some shortcuts to success.
Involving everyone – key stakeholders, community groups, businesses, heritage leaders, local residents and landlords as well as the Council – in creating a shared vision, developing plans and finding solutions is key to ensuring the towns’ future sustainability.