Oldham residents have reacted with disappointment and resignation after a town centre regeneration scheme has been scrapped for the second time.
Prince’s Gate at Oldham Mumps was set to undergo a ‘game-changing’ transformation, with plans drawn up to build a Lidl supermarket and a hotel on the site. But Lidl’s contract was cancelled earlier this week by the council cabinet after the supermarket said it could no longer deliver the hotel under the contract.
It comes after plans to build a new Marks and Spencer store fell through in 2016, two years after being announced. Oldham residents now say they are fed up with the ‘constant changing’ – but the Council say they are committed to redevloping the site and it is a ‘good time’ to reconsider the plans
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Cath Brayshaw, from Oldham, said she wasn’t surprised by the news of the plans being scrapped, and she didn’t have much faith in regeneration schemes from the council.
“Oldham Council just love to waste money,” she told the M.E.N. “They keep planning things, and then they just fall though. Why do they do that?”
It was a sentiment echoed by Joan, Barbara, and their friends, who were out in Oldham shopping. They called Oldham’s town planners ‘dreadful’ and said they felt Oldham had bigger problems than Prince’s Gate.
“I just think the whole place is a mess, and that needs sorting before they start doing other things,” Barbara said. “I’ve no time for Oldham Council,” Joan added.
Tina and Martin work in the Oldham Mumps area. They said they felt disappointed by the decision to scrap the plans as they hoped a cheap supermarket would be built in Oldham town centre.
“We would have liked an Aldi here,” Tina said. “I think it would be nice for the drivers if they only have a 20 minute break or something.”
Martin said he didn’t mind which supermarket was built, but he hoped there would be one as ‘there’s nothing round here’.
“They keep changing their plans, don’t they,” he said. “I think even if it was just an express shop it would be good. This should be a hub, with people coming and going from the buses and trams.”
But others said they ‘didn’t care’ what happened to the site, with some calling it a ‘dead spot’. Samuel Riley, who owns a nearby barbershop, said he didn’t think anything done to the site would impact his business.
“They can blow it up, they can build skyscrapers, it won’t make any difference to me,” he said. “We don’t take any notice of the council. We know it’s rubbish.
“It’s one thing after another after another that never happens. Everything just gets worse in this town. Nothing ever gets better.”
One woman, who didn’t want to be named, said she didn’t use the Oldham Mumps site much, but agreed a supermarket could be a good use of the space.
“I’m never really down there, it’s a bit of a dead spot,” she said. “But we could do with a shop there I think.”
Coun Amanda Chadderton, Leader of the Council, said: “While we are obviously disappointed that the planned development with Lidl could not go ahead, this does give us the opportunity to look again at the best use of the Prince’s Gate site.
“It was almost a decade ago when retail plans for that location were first discussed, with Marks and Spencer. They said they couldn’t go ahead with their plans at a time when they were closing stores across the country – and since then they have closed several more. The fact is, the retail industry has largely changed since 2014 and what made sense then does not necessarily make sense now.
“Our plans then shifted to a supermarket and a hotel on the site, but national and global factors – such as Covid, Brexit, and the Cost of Living crisis – meant that Lidl couldn’t deliver the hotel aspect of that scheme. Legally, we could not go ahead with just the supermarket. While I understand many people will be disappointed by this, there are several new budget supermarket schemes in the pipeline for other sites across the borough.
“Meanwhile, our town centre regeneration plans continue – work is well underway to redevelop the Old Library with a new home for Oldham Theatre Workshop, community space and a new Council Chamber. The Spindles development is progressing fast with new offices now open on the top floor and work is starting soon to turn the space into a new home for Tommyfield Market. A food hall is being created at the Egyptian Rooms; and a new theatre is also at the heart of our plans for the town centre.
“All of this means that it is a good time to reconsider the Prince’s Gate plans and take another look at what we need on this key site in our town centre.We have been committed to all the opportunities at this site on both occasions – unfortunately it’s the businesses who have changed plans, and forced a termination to the agreements.”