The hybrid planning application for Northern Roots, which is creating the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park near Oldham town centre, has been unanimously approved by Oldham Council planning committee.
Developed for and with local communities, the vision for Northern Roots is to create sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits for people of Oldham. The project aims to:
- Develop a range of new facilities and activities to create a unique new community asset and visitor destination.
- Create jobs, training and business opportunities for local people. Up to eighty jobs could be created by the charity over the next five years.
- Stimulate the local economy and attract increased visitor numbers to the wider borough.
- Improve the health and wellbeing of local residents and communities.
- Protect and enhance the habitat, biodiversity and environmental value of the 160-acre Northern Roots site.
The plans, which were informed by extensive consultation with local communities, focus on the northern third of the 160-acre site. They include a Visitor Centre with a café, shop, exhibition and meeting space, a Learning Centre with classrooms and a bunkroom, a forestry depot, market garden, solar array and an outdoor swimming pond. The Visitor Centre and Learning Centre have been co-designed by JDDK Architects and local communities, and incorporate green rooves, habitat walls, renewable energy sources, and sustainable materials.
Four existing football pitches will be given a much-needed refurbishment, with two of them relocating next to Glodwick Cricket Club. Access improvements to the Northern Roots site will also be made and car parking areas created.
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, said:
“I’m delighted colleagues have approved the hybrid planning application, which will pave the way for Northern Roots to really fulfil its potential to benefit communities in Oldham and the North West.”
“Northern Roots has already created a number of jobs and business opportunities for local residents, training and educational opportunities for young people across Oldham, and artist commissions and arts events that reflect and celebrate Oldham’s rich culture. The Charity has also secured significant funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Community Renewal Fund and other funding bodies.”
“Northern Roots has so much potential to create new opportunities for Oldhamers and put our borough on the map.”
As some of the site lies within the Green Belt and involves changes to playing pitches, the application will now be referred to the Secretary of State to consider whether they wish to review the decision or not.
Pending Secretary of State review, work will start on the Visitor Centre and other elements in late 2023.