Flurry of businesses open up in Rochdale

A total of 21 new businesses have opened up in Rochdale town centre since 2015 thanks to support from the Council.

Support packages from Rochdale Borough Council have helped 21 businesses set up shop in the town centre since launching in 2015.

The combination of big council-funded business rates discounts and property renovation grants have helped new cafes, restaurants and shops open on the high street in recent years.

In the process, the vacancy rate in the area where the incentives have been operating has fallen to just 14%.

The new businesses, which include an American-style restaurant, a traditional café and a bakery, benefitted from an 80% reduction in their business rates in their first year of trading, followed by 50% off in year two and 30% off in year three.

A property renovation grant was recently added to the package, with eligible businesses able to apply for up to £5,000 of match funding.

Cllr Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’ve invested almost £250,000 in small business support for Rochdale town centre to boost our high street in the last two years, and, with 21 new businesses in the town centre since we started, it’s clearly having a big impact.

“At the same time, we’re working towards a new shopping and leisure development, as part of our longer-term £250m regeneration package. With all this going on, we’re now finding that a number of new businesses are opening without any council support because they want to be part of what we’re doing here.

“Our next task is to look at reviving streets outside the core retail area, such as Drake Street, and we’re already working with the private sector on a number of options for this important part of our town centre.”

But, while the schemes have given the high street a short-term boost, the longer term £250m regeneration of the town centre, which includes the new shopping and leisure development, Rochdale Riverside, is set to create around 1,000 permanent jobs and has also proven a driver for town centre investment.

Two of the recent beneficiaries of the council’s small business support package are the grade II listed former Victorian coaching house, the Wellington Hotel, which has just re-opened as a gastro pub in Drake Street, and Marnie’s hairdressers in Smith Street. Both of the properties are owned by Millerbrook properties, which works across the North West.

Millerbrook director Richard Ward, said: “There’s no magic bullet solution to regenerating a town centre; it’s about a mix of different things, like you have here in Rochdale. Both of our new businesses benefitted from the shop renovation grant, but our tenants also cite the ongoing £250m regeneration as a major reason they’ve come. They’re right next to the new town centre metrolink stop and transport interchange and will be opposite the new shopping and leisure development when it opens, so they know they will benefit from that footfall.

“Private developers are investing in Rochdale again. They see that the private sector is investing huge sums of money into projects like Rochdale Riverside and know that they wouldn’t do that if there wasn’t potential here. Once things like that happen, investors start to take notice. The fact that the council is also leading on this regeneration means they’re really pro-active and supportive of new businesses who want to invest.”

The unit next door to Marnie’s hairdressers is set to open as another new shop before the end of the year, with plans for residential units above the shops, due to hit the open market early next year.

Ward added: “Once we’ve renovated these two final units, that will be a total of £2m spent on these historic properties, which total 20,000 square feet and are right in the heart of the town centre. There’s been a massive shift in our town centre from where we were five years ago and we want to be involved.”