Further Ashton improvement works detailed – but funds needed to do them

TAMESIDE Council has unveiled its strategy to further redevelop Ashton-under-Lyne’s town centre – but admits it has no funding to do it.

The £11 million project to revamp the town’s market square, using money from the government’s Levelling Up Fund and deliver other public realm work around what is described as ‘the beating heart of the town’ has been approved.

Now the authority has proposed what it wants to do in other areas. However, it will need cash from other areas in order to deliver it.

A report to its executive cabinet, which meets on Wednesday, September 27, highlights several different areas for work.

Ashton under Lyne public realm phase two – artist impression

It includes Ashton Market Hall, Old Street – with options to improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists, Stamford Street Central – creating a walkable, pleasant, and attractive zone with tree-planting and ‘flexible spaces.’

The width of Oldham Road may be reduced with improved pedestrian crossings and street trees in a bid to create an attractive environment for walking and cycling, while Katherine Street would also be improved.

St Michael’s Square may also be ‘re-animated’ with proposals to introduce a green barrier and encourage a space for outdoor seating and a place to celebrate the heritage of the town.

Work is also ongoing to finalise a draft business case for the Mayor’s Challenge Fund scheme known as Albion Way and Wellington Road.

The council found out what people think of Ashton when a Love Ashton engagement event with the public produced several disparaging comments, including ‘level the lot and start again.’

Others included: “Market square is characterless – missing the vibrant atmosphere from the past. It should be an attraction and destination rather than a cluttered space.

“Market stalls are unattractive, impractical and in bad condition. Safety issues in the square, related to antisocial behaviour, poor lighting and visibility.

“Accessibility from public transport should be improved, as well as connections to St. Petersfield and the rest of Ashton Town Centre and the theatre once an important place (Charlie Chaplin played here) is being left to rot.”

Market traders and business owners voiced their concerns, as well as Tameside Owners and Drivers Association, Tameside College and the council’s greenspace team and its place and external relations scrutiny panel.

Ashton Market Hall

And a strategy for what is called phase two of the public realm strategy for Ashton, wider town centre, has been drawn up.

Main themes include connecting St Petersfield to the heart of the town, creating a series of spaces to create destination in the town, redefine the market as the heart of the town, enhance the arrival to the town centre to encourage footfall into the town and define connections across the town to improve people movement in and around Ashton town centre.

However, the report also admits in its risk management section: “No funding identified to deliver projects in the Phase 2 Strategy.”

It adds: “Whilst new projects are identified in the strategy for delivery, the council has no funding available at the present time and will be seeking opportunities to attract further funding streams.

St Petersfield in Ashton-under-Lyne

“This second phase of the strategy is important in ensuring Ashton town centre has a clear vision and plan in place to respond positively to future funding initiatives, as and when they emerge, to deliver these later phases of works.

“The Director of Place proactively apply to have additional external funding to support the proposed cohesive approach to Ashton’s regeneration in the Phase Two Public Realm Strategy.”

As a result, Tameside Council will: “Continue to seek opportunities for external funding to deliver schemes.”

And there can be no reallocating of funds from the council’s £4,251,000 budget for public realm works across the borough.

The report continues: “Any decision in future taken by Executive Cabinet on use of this in support of the Ashton Public Realm Strategy should be considered in the round against the needs in the Borough so as not to make a decision that, upon review, is recognised as being sub-optimal in terms of the council’s best value duty.

“In the current high interest environment around borrowing from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), it is not recommended that the council finances Phase Two from external borrowing currently.”

5 Replies to “Further Ashton improvement works detailed – but funds needed to do them”

  1. Whats going on in ashton they are spending 10.3 million on the market which as been done up more than once yet have closed a much used swimming pool and want to spend more money on planting trees and doing up areas of ashton the money would be better spent on a new wellness centre like denton I am sure if there was a vote most people would agree

  2. I can’t understand when the council say the current market stalls are in bad condition. I’m sure they were only installed two or three years ago and the stalls they replaced had been up many years, and how many millions did this last refurbishment cost in total. Also the much loved theatre that is talked about, the council tried to have it demolished and it only the actions of a group that had been formed to protect the theatre and managed to get listed status for it that prevented the council from doing so.

  3. Recall the loans made to other Labour Councils and spend it improving all the Boroughs.
    Rethink the tent for scrotes to keep dry whilst getting high on weed.
    Stop spending money on hair brained schemes then increasing the cost to park to recoup the money.
    The list is endless,

  4. The last revamp of Ashton market aroun 2019 was never completed. Why would you start it all over again and not have funds to complete it yet again! To many fingers in the pies from a labour run council it’s time you Tameside people voted them out.

  5. Why are we spending more money in Ashton when other towns are forgotten
    Why is Droylsden not on the Agenda it seems as though we have been forgotten !!!!

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