A ‘Mayoral development zone’ will be created around Ashton-under-Lyne which aims to showcase it on an ‘international’ level.
Tameside council chiefs have agreed to create a new strategic framework to support the council’s ambitions to develop growth in and around Ashton.
The aim is to ‘galvanise the progress’ already being made, and to raise the profile of the Ashton ‘innovation zone’ by engaging with Mayor Andy Burnham.
READMORE:‘There is a real fear’: Crackdown on crime wave in Greater Manchester’s ‘carjacking capital’
The Ashton ‘innovation corridor’ is made up of St Petersfield, Ashton Moss and Ashton town centre.
Bosses say the areas represent a ‘unique cluster of opportunity’ which was boosted by the securing of £19.8m of government cash from the leveling up fund.
This will be used for the regeneration of Ashton town centre, including works to the town hall and the public realm area around the market square.
Keep up to date with the top stories on life in and around Tameside with the free email newsletter from MyTameside.
The MyTameside newsletter goes out weekly on Wednesdays with a selection of our most popular articles, including the latest on the coronavirus pandemic and how Tameside is coming to terms with it.
To sign up to the MyTameside newsletter simply click on this link, enter your email address and put a tick against the box for ‘MyTameside News’.
Creating a Greater Manchester Mayoral Development Zone encompassing these areas, which will be known as the Ashton Development Zone, would work to ‘realise the potential’ of the areas and drive growth, according to the authority.
It would build on the success of the refurbishment Ashton Old Baths into a modern digital office space and data centre, and the business developments at Ashton Moss – which would hugely expand under the ‘places for everyone’ masterplan.
Chiefs believe there are further opportunities for business growth, particularly in the digital and creative sectors in the Tameside area.
Cabinet member for finance, Councilor Oliver Ryan described the move as the ‘cherry on top’ of the work that had already taken place in Ashton, including the Vision Tameside project and the new Ashton interchange.
“This has been something that has been personally championed by the leader, and it will be a great addition to the work that we’re doing around St Petersfield, Ashton Moss, and the town center particularly,” he said.
“I know there is a feeling out there that we need to do more for Ashton town center and I think this council agrees.
“We have seen significant investment in Ashton town center over the last decade or so despite austerity.
“But this I think will take us to the next level. This really will allow us to generate and attract more money and more interest for Ashton.
“This is our plan for Ashton town centre, Ashton is on the up. There’s an awful lot of exciting things happening.”
Gregg Stott, the council’s assistant director for investment, development and housing said the zone would surround an area that is already recognized as a ‘growth location’.
“What the report does do is demonstrate the opportunities that Tameside does have and the ability to showcase those on a regional, national and international level,” he added.
“So it really is a sign of confidence, it’s a sign of momentum, it’s a sign of the scale of delivery and potential across both Ashton but also the borough as a whole.
“This is hugely positive, it’s a clear statement of intent and opportunity for Ashton and Tameside.”
The development zone will provide overarching strategic direction for the area, and be led by a steering group and officer working group appointed by the council.
Mr Burnham and council leader Brenda Warrington, chief executive Steven Pleasant and senior representatives of the GMCA, Homes England, and Transport for Greater Manchester will all sit on the steering group.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.