Tonight, (Monday 24 July) Cabinet members approved plans for an exciting new public space within Oldham’s Cultural Quarter - meaning a new open area for arts and events is now set to be developed.
Close to the proposed new theatre, the library and the Old Library, the space will be able to hold an outdoor stage and will also be adaptable to suit activities such as outdoor arts classes, theatre performances and more.
The aim is that the space will become the "heart" of Oldham's growing Cultural Quarter, bringing together the three key buildings – the current Library and Gallery, the restored Old Library which is set to open in early 2025 and the new theatre, which subject to planning permission is expected to open in 2026.
As part of the work, improvements will also be made to Southgate, Ashworth, and Greaves Street to include planting, new trees, seating areas, external lighting and improved paving.
Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “This is great news for residents, community groups and visitors to Oldham, who will soon have a fantastic new outdoor space for arts and culture that everyone can enjoy - right at the heart of our new Cultural Quarter.
“This decision also marks another important step in the fast-moving redevelopment of our town centre; creating a better place for people to work, live and raise their families.
“While there's so much to be proud of in Oldham's past, we have a lot to be excited for in the future, and this new addition to our town centre will be one of them
“The changes will come at the perfect time, as lots more people will be coming into town to shop in the new home for Tommyfield Market, attend an event in the new events space and watch shows at the new theatre. I'm really looking forward to seeing work get underway."
This new arts and culture space comes hot on the heels of Hilton Square, another brand-new public space with planting, seating and better paving, opening up in the town centre.
The design includes a fully accessible central square that can hold up to 150 people for a stage, complete with light and sound. This will create a more intimate, vibrant, outdoor venue in the town centre that performers and audiences can really make use of.
To ensure there is minimal disruption during the construction, the project will be delivered in phases.
Phase one will be combined with the completion of the Old Library in early 2025 and phase two will coincide with the final works to the new theatre, set to open in 2026.
The proposed plans have been designed after feedback from the Big Oldham Conversation and stakeholders including, Gallery Oldham, Oldham Theatre Workshop and Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
The Cultural Quarter, when complete, will include an extended community gallery space and home for Oldham Theatre Workshop at the restored Old Library; a brand-new theatre; and Gallery Oldham and Oldham Library, with events including the popular live@thelibrary programme.
This is also part of Oldham's much wider regeneration programme, creating a sustainable mixed-use town centre for the future.
Developments include a new market, new theatre, new shops and leisure opportunities, a new town centre park and new homes – building a great place for businesses to thrive and where more people want to live, work and visit.
To find out more about the work taking place, visit: www.oldham.gov.uk/regen