‘£100m game changer will go ahead’ insist town hall chiefs
ROCHDALE council chiefs are to press ahead with £100m plans to transform Rochdale town centre - despite Marks and Spencer pulling out of the flagship project.
At a private meeting on Thursday Cabinet members voted to continue with the Rochdale Riverside scheme.
In a statement released after the meeting council leader Allen Brett said the authority wasn’t going to let the M&S decision ‘derail... this game-changing development’. And the council’s regeneration chief John Blundell says a number of ‘high profile announcements’ about the project will be made in the next few weeks.
It’s understood the cabinet was presented with four options, one of which was to scrap the plans entirely.
Other options put to cabinet were to delay the decision on whether to proceed until the M&S issue was resolved or to delay the decision until a new tenant was found.
As the Observer reported last month M&S said they had taken the ‘tough decision’ to abandon plans to close its existing Yorkshire Street store and move to Rochdale Riverside.
It led to fears the entire project could be jeopardised.
But Coun Brett said M&S have signed a ‘legally binding contract to take space in the Rochdale Riverside development and we fully expect them to honour that commitment’.
He added: “We’re not going to let this issue derail what will be a fantastic development for the people of our borough, bringing 24 shops and restaurants and a six-screen cinema, to the heart of the town centre.
“We will continue to work with our partner, Genr8, to deliver this game changing development for our residents and visitors.”
Coun Blundell said: “We’re gearing up to make a number of high profile announcements about the scheme in the next few weeks and more extensive ground investigations, needed to assess conditions before construction starts, will be getting under way next week.
“This is about a new and exciting future for Rochdale and we fully intend to deliver it.”
But the decision to hold the meeting in private has been criticised by opposition councillors.
Coun Ashley Dearnley, leader of Rochdale’s Conservatives, said: “I understand the legal issues, but this is too big a decision to made in private by a handful of councillors.
●●An artist’s impression of the planned £100m Riverside development in the town centre
●●Council leader Allen Brett said the Marks and Spencer issue would not derail their plans