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Sacha Lord and Cllr Arooj Shah Published: Thursday, 14th December 2023

A £237,000 funding boost for Oldham's high street and night time economy has been welcomed.

The High Street Accelerator Pilot will see us work in partnership with our residents, businesses and local organisations, focusing on Yorkshire Street and Union Street. 

We'll use the funding to tackle empty shops and develop our night time offer - further boosting the ongoing regeneration of Oldham Town Centre, which is now well underway.

Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, met with Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, to discuss the funding news and outline our ambitions for a thriving town centre, both day and night.

Cllr Shah, who is also Cabinet Member for Reform and Regeneration, said: “We’re proud to once again be taking great strides to make Oldham an even better place to live, work and visit.

“We’ve got some great businesses here that play a huge part in our night time economy and many exciting new venues on the way including the Egyptian Room, the new Tommyfield Market and a new events space.

"But we hear the concerns of local people who tell us they want our town centre to have more things to do in the evening and to feel safer.

"We also know there's too many empty buildings, especially around Yorkshire Street and Union Street. This has a negative impact on nearby businesses and the look and feel of our town centre.

"This funding will help us to work with landlords and property owners to understand why their premises are shut, and what needs to happen to get them open."

Sacha Lord added: “I’ve visited Oldham many times and residents and operators have spoken to me about how thriving the night time economy used to be – so I’m delighted Oldham is receiving this financial support.

“There’s a lot of positive work going on to make the town’s evening offer more attractive to visitors and this funding will support that and the great businesses already in place.”

The High Street Accelerator programme is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Oldham is one of 10 towns to successfully bid for the funding pot.

The pilot has also been welcomed by local businesses, including Maggie Hughes, owner of Zutti Co on Yorkshire Street.

Maggie, who is also Independent Vice-Chair of Oldham Town Centre Board, said: "My business has been on Yorkshire Street since 1980 and we've seen first-hand how it's changed over the years.

"Sadly Oldham, like all town centres, has lost shops and businesses including many national high street chains.

"But we continue to have some fantastic independent businesses - lots of them on Yorkshire Street and Union Street - and that is a real strength for us as a borough. We need to nurture that entrepreneurial spirit. 

"There's great regeneration work happening in Oldham and this funding will help us work together with Oldham Council to address two persistent issues and ensure the whole town benefits."

Michelle Riley, owner of two award-winning town centre pubs - the Cob and Coal and Fox and Pine - added: "I think the pilot sounds great, I want more pubs to open in Oldham and more support for the night time economy."

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