MORE THAN 10,000 jobs, 1,500 homes and 190,000 square metres of employment space can be created by Ashton-under-Lyne being made a new Mayoral Development Zone.
A new railway station for Ashton Moss is also being proposed – but it would see land at what is called Ashton Moss West being released from the Green Belt.
The area, St Petersfield and the town centre, has been selected as the Ashton Mayoral Development Zone (AMDZ) by Greater Manchester head Andy Burnham.
It is hoped that will bring other benefits, including proposals to extend the Metrolink, a quality bus corridor and active travel improvements.
Documents state Ashton is, ‘one of six growth locations across Greater Manchester that will deliver new mixed-use development, create a renewed and vibrant town centre, create and retain jobs, offer better job opportunities, enable training and skill development to increase the number of residents in employment.’
They add: “Ashton Moss and Ashton town centre, including St Peterstield, are major catalysts for growth but require a longer-term vision and strategy to deliver.
“The Ashton Growth Corridor presents a unique opportunity to focus on a cluster of growth opportunities which will build on the investment of transport, digital assets and place planning to harness the opportunity presented.
“The current area is deprived. Delivery of high paid jobs and opportunities will impact positively on deprivation indicators.
“The Ashton Moss site has the potential to deliver transformational change with capacity for around 135,000 sqm of high quality employment facilities including industrial space, research and development laboratories and supporting office and logistics developments.
“Ashton Moss West represents a major opportunity for Tameside and to deliver high quality employment floorspace primarily falling within research and life sciences, health technologies, advanced manufacturing or materials science.
“The site provides a significant opportunity to deliver new employment space for advanced manufacturing and materials uses alongside greater engagement with higher educational institutions.”
Much of the land at Ashton Moss currently lies in the Green Belt but the Places for Everyone plan being drawn up is likely to have it earmarked for removal.
That is just one of the issues affecting the area as documents continue: “Failure to remove the site will make the transformational growth opportunity of the corridor less certain.
“There is insufficient market demand for the commercial, employment and new housing development.
“This is being mitigated by the public sector working collaboratively to obtain up to date market intelligence and directly engaging with the market to secure feedback on emerging masterplan concepts.
“The Tameside area of Greater Manchester performs significantly worse overall than the southern areas and this is forecast to continue unless there are co-ordinated interventions to address this.”
The borough’s current status – and why the AMDZ is needed – were also starkly pointed out in the report for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
And it told how it is imperative new life is brought to the town centre, which has received £40 million in Government funding, with £19 million set to deliver 471 new homes in and around he now disused part of the transport interchange.
“Tameside experiences high levels of deprivation. characterised by relatively low incomes, low house prices, low qualifications, low economic activity, low proportions in higher managerial/professional occupations, and poor average health,” was its damning verdict.
“Significant interventions will be required to address these issues through the provision of a good supply of high-quality development sites, interventions to facilitate and lever town centre regeneration and make use of existing assets and investment in transport connectivity and enhanced digital connectivity at Ashton Old Baths.
“For Ashton Moss to attract the quality of businesses envisaged and retain and attract workers it is necessary that Ashton town centre is an attractive centre offering a range of uses that compliment other recent development at Ashton Moss. “
As well as employment space, the first of which is being advertised as the Rayner Lane Trade Park, the AMDZ would bring transport changes, with a railway station at Ashtin Moss and a new Quality Bus Transit Corridor connecting Rochdale, Oldham and Ashton included.
The new zone was welcomed by Councillor Jack Naylor, Tameside Council’s executive member for inclusive growth, business and employment, who said, “This is great news for Ashton and Tameside as a whole.
“We want to generate further economic growth by capitalising on our location and links across the north west and the rest of Greater Manchester strengthening our accessibility and transport links as well as creating more employment opportunities for current and future residents.”
Mr Burnham added: “Ashton has some great qualities that this project will build on – excellent transport links, a growing digital and tech scene centred on Ashton Old Baths, and exciting plans to transform the town centre being led by Tameside Council.
“The Mayoral Development Zone will help unlock further investment and support the development of new homes and employment space, creating jobs and opportunities that benefit people across the area.”