‘It was lauded as a game-changer for Oldham… but eight years later it’s gone out with a whimper’

Opposition Oldham councillors have slammed the ‘dismal track record’ of the local authority after leaders aborted long-awaited plans for a new food store and hotel.

The Labour-run council has been trying to regenerate the Prince’s Gate site at Oldham Mumps for the best part of ten years.

After plans for a new Marks and Spencer store fell through in 2016, two years after being announced, the authority drew up a contract in 2019 with Lidl to redevelop the site with the promise of both a food store and a hotel.

However after changes to the market following the pandemic, Lidl said it could no longer deliver the hotel under the contract, which due to legal reasons resulted in it being terminated by the council’s cabinet earlier this week.

READ MORE: Teen, 18, charged with attempted murder after stabbing at Salford Precinct

Leaders say the site could now potentially be used for housing, retail, employment or commercial opportunities.

Council leader Amanda Chadderton also confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the town hall remains in talks to open a Lidl store elsewhere in the borough.

But members of the three opposition parties on the council have criticised the decision to terminate the contract and vented frustration about the length of time it has taken for work to begin at the Mumps site.

Councillor Howard Sykes, Liberal Democrat group leader said: “Prince’s Gate was lauded as a game-changer for Oldham but more than eight years and four Labour leaders later it’s gone out with a whimper.

An aerial view of Oldham Mumps
(Image: Oldham council)

“Labour can add Prince’s Gate to the long list of abortive regeneration projects they’ve championed over the years including so called plans for Hotel Futures. It’s a dismal track record.”

The Conservative shadow cabinet member for employment and enterprise, Coun Luke Lancaster said the news would damage public trust in the council to deliver major projects in the borough.

“The cancellation of this contract is yet another low point in the long-running Prince’s Gate saga,” he added. “Beyond being disappointed, Oldham residents have every right to be incensed with the last decade – millions spent with nothing in return.”

What do you think? Have your say in our comments below.

And Coun Brian Hobin, who heads up the Failsworth Independent Party group on the council benches, described the announcement as ‘an absolute disgrace’ and said it showed the administration ‘cannot be trusted with taxpayers money’.

“It also shows why this Labour administration should not be believed or trusted to deliver vanity projects they dream up like this,” he added.

In response to the criticism, council leader Amanda Chadderton said: “It’s disappointing but the private market is unfortunately not controlled by Oldham council.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton
(Image: Oldham council)

“We were informed by Lidl that they could not fulfil the terms of the contract but we remain in active discussions with Lidl about opening another store elsewhere in Oldham.

“The regeneration of Prince’s Gate was first announced in 2014 and our town centre plans have moved on greatly with the development of the Old Town Hall, Spindles, the Old Public Library and most significantly, the development of housing and the potential to increase this.

“We are going to use the coming months to reflect on where we are and what is the best use of the site going forward.

“It is wholly untrue that ‘millions of pounds’ have been wasted on this and it’s a bit rich of the Conservative group to lecture Oldham Council on public finances when it’s their government that spent the last year tanking the economy and are now overseeing the worst cost of living crises in living memory.”

Read more of today’s top stories here


Manchester Evening News – Oldham