The new centre represents a major boost to Oldham’s ambitions to become the greenest borough in the region.
It will have low running costs, aims to be ‘carbon neutral’ and will replace the existing and ageing depot currently on site.
Once built it would help enhance the borough’s reputation as a ‘green and growing’ city, while also boosting skills, training and employment opportunities.
The new eco-centre would act as an anchor development for our flagship Northern Roots Project.
Northern Roots is a bold and pioneering initiative which will transform Snipe Clough – 160 acres of under-used green space – into the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park.
It will be developed for and with local communities, in a way that creates jobs, skills and business opportunities for local people, while preserving and enhancing the biodiversity and environmental value of the site.
The initiative builds on the work Oldham Council has done over the last six years around community involvement in green projects, including horticulture skills and training, renewable energy and building the local food economy.
The new Eco Centre is a key part of the Northern Roots project and would also offer further training and employment opportunities – with Oldham College and other education providers to be involved.
It will be a base for enterprises and community projects providing much-needed facilities – such as office space, operational buildings, greenhouses and storage facilities.
The new centre would aim to be self-sufficient due to the use of bio-mass C.H.P (Combined Heat and Power) technology.
Proposals include solar panels to provide power and a filtration system would be installed to allow water to be collected so it can be used at the facility and also at other sites across Oldham.
It would also see the introduction of vehicle charging points, for use of the services fleet vehicles as we move to electric vehicles and minimise the emissions generated on the town’s road network.
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “These proposals for the new centre are unique and ambitious in terms of their scale, use of technology and environmental impact.
“We’d be building a new purpose-built facility that would meet the needs of our services and continue to provide employment and enhanced training opportunities. We’re also looking for the centre to have low running costs, which is another big bonus.
“In Oldham we are working to build an inclusive economy, thriving communities and a growing workforce and to support these aims we must have the right infrastructure and facilities in place.”
Commenting during his visit to the Northern Roots site, Andy Burnham said: “In our Five-Year Environment Plan we’ve set out our ambition to tackle the effects of climate change and make our city-region carbon-neutral by 2038.
“A vital part of this will be looking at how we can regenerate urban green spaces and put them at the heart of our communities – becoming viable, sustainable resources that bring people together and enhance our quality of life.”
“The benefits of this approach are wide-ranging, from creating new opportunities for recreation, education, enterprise and employment, to increasing urban biodiversity and promoting public health and wellbeing.
“Northern Roots has the potential to transform the way we think about urban green space, not only in Greater Manchester but on a national scale.”
Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services said: “The depot down at Alexandra Park is coming to the end of its working life – it would require significant investment to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
“The new centre would support Northern Roots and put Oldham on the map as a pioneer of new social, environmental and economic ways of working. It will provide a model that other areas can adopt to preserve and enhance their green infrastructure.”
A planning application for the Alexandra Park Depot Eco Centre will be submitted next week. If approved building work could begin later this year.
Two drop in sessions – 9am to 10am and 2pm to 3pm – are being held in the Conservatory at Alexandra Park on Thursday, January 16 so residents can get more information about the plans.