‘Olympic’ climb­ing cen­tre hopes to hit the heights

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By CHAR­LOTTE GREEN Lo­cal Democ­racy Ser­vice

AN ‘Olympic’ in­door rock climb­ing cen­tre is set to at­tract ‘up to 90,000’ peo­ple.

The cen­tre in the heart of Old­ham is to be built on land for­merly oc­cu­pied by the All Na­tions Church on Eger­ton Street, which has now been de­mol­ished.

Coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously ap­proved it at a meet­ing of the bor­ough’s plan­ning com­mit­tee, wel­com­ing the fa­cil­ity as ‘fan­tas­tic.’

It is be­ing built by the Stoller Char­i­ta­ble Trust, which says that the cen­tre is ex­pected to cre­ate 40 jobs and all the prof­its made by the cen­tre will be rein­vested back into the char­ity.

Busi­ness­man Sir Nor­man Stoller cre­ated the trust in the 1980s, and it has since given mil­lions to good causes. He ran Old­ham firm Se­ton Health­care, which was founded by his fa­ther Ivor, in­ven­tor of the tubu­lar ban­dage.

Steve Lowe, from the trust, told the meet­ing they are de­vel­op­ing the climb­ing fa­cil­ity through a not­for-profit sub­sidiary.

He said: “This will be one of the largest climb­ing cen­tres in Greater Manch­ester, com­bin­ing clip-and­climb, boul­der­ing, lead climb­ing, soft play and a cafe area. Climb­ing is the fastest-grow­ing healthy ac­tiv­ity in the UK with both lead climb­ing, speed climb­ing and boul­der­ing be­com­ing an Olympic sport in 2020. We will have the equiv­a­lent of these Olympic walls in Old­ham.

“It will be pro­vid­ing a fam­ily leisure op­por­tu­nity for all ages from two to 92.”

He added that it would sup­port the coun­cil with their plans to re­gen­er­ate the town cen­tre, in­clud­ing projects at Prince’s Gate and the her­itage cen­tre.

He said: “Our fore­casts in­di­cate po­ten­tially be­tween 80-90,000 vis­i­tors each year, which will visit not only the climb­ing cen­tre but the town cen­tre and will cre­ate up to 40 jobs many of which will be for young­sters.

“With no park­ing on the site we are en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tors to use pub­lic trans­port or the town cen­tre car parks. Most im­por­tantly all the prof­its gen­er­ated will be made avail­able to the char­i­ta­ble trust to con­tinue to sup­port lo­cal com­mu­nity groups and in par­tic­u­lar im­prov­ing the lives of young peo­ple in the town and make Old­ham a place peo­ple will en­joy vis­it­ing and re­tain Sir Nor­man’s vi­sion that Old­ham re­mains the cen­tre of the uni­verse.”

The build­ing would cover more than 1,800 sq m next to the Mahdlo Youth Zone and near Old­ham Coli­seum theatre.

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