Northern Roots urban farm and eco-park secures funding from Towns Fund

Jul 7, 2021 | Natural Environment

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Image shows Northern Roots site which is green and full of trees

The Northern Roots site in Oldham

Plans for a new 160-acre urban farm and eco-park in Oldham have advanced following successful allocation of funding and the appointment of award-winning architects to build a new Visitor and Education Centre.

Northern Roots, an existing sprawl of under-used green space just five minutes from the town of Oldham in Greater Manchester is one of four successful projects put forward by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council to receive funding from the Government’s Towns Fund.

The funding will enable Northern Roots to deliver key elements of the proposed project, subject to planning permission, including a Visitor Centre, Education and Youth Centre, a market garden, swimming pond, and a Bike Hub and Trails facility.

A phased community consultation to gather ideas around the activities and businesses local people would like to experience at the site, has now completed, with a proposed masterplan alongside architects designs due to be revealed in Autumn 2021.

Architects firm JDDK have been appointed to oversee the creative vision for Northern Roots, and will work to create a sustainable and environmentally low impact design for on-site building plans.

Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader Oldham Council and Chairman, Northern Roots Board, said: “We’re really pleased to welcome JDDK to the Northern Roots team. It’s taken three years of hard work to bring the project to this stage, so this is a pivotal moment in turning our exciting vision for Northern Roots into a reality. A vision that will bring economic benefits to local communities in the form of jobs and business opportunities and help us play our part in delivering a more sustainable future for Oldham.”

Nicky Watson, Director, JDDK, said: “Everyone at JDDK is so pleased that our team has been appointed for the Northern Roots project. It is a real honour to be given the opportunity to work with Northern Roots to design within such a beautiful and exciting site. The project is full of potential to bring real social and economic value to the people of Oldham as well as visitors from further afield, and at the same time protect and enhance its ecology – we can’t wait to get stuck in!”

Northern Roots is now working with JDDK to design and deliver further creative consultation sessions, to be held in summer, which will help inform the design of the key buildings proposed on the site, with initial construction due to begin in 2022.

Anna da Silva, Project Director, Northern Roots, said: After three years of planning, consultation and feasibility work, this fantastic news means that the Northern Roots project can now move into the delivery phase. Funding from the Towns Fund is a validation of Oldham’s inspirational vision for an inclusive, green future.”

Funding from the Towns Fund complements funding already secured by Northern Roots from sources including the Rural Community Energy Fund, the DEFRA-funded Green Recovery Challenge Fund, GM Moving and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Northern Roots’ vision is to create a sustainable site with economic, social and environmental benefits for the local community with aims to develop a range of new facilities and activities to create a unique new community and visitor destination.

It is hoped the site will create jobs, training and business opportunities for local people, whilst stimulating the local economy and increasing visitor numbers to Oldham.

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