We all want to see a thriving Rochdale town centre

Posted by: Gareth Swarbrick

A message from Gareth Swarbrick, RBH Chief Executive

We all want to see a thriving Rochdale town centre, with more homes, and the right quality and mix of genuinely affordable apartments and houses for current and future residents. This goes together with a retail, cultural, and leisure offer that encourages people to live, work, play, and invest in Rochdale. As Chief Executive of RBH, I know that I have a responsibility to work together with the Council and the community to deliver on that vision.

We are proud to be a pioneering mutual, in the home of the co-operative movement. Our tenant and employee members collectively own our 12,000-plus homes. Our members elect our Representative Body, and in turn, our elected tenant and employee Representatives appoint our Board.

I have never been prouder to be Chief Executive of RBH than I am right now. I have seen how our teams have continued to deliver essential services throughout the pandemic, and how our tenants and employees have worked together alongside the Council and community groups to support those who needed help the most.

We know that Rochdale Borough continues to face challenges – including housing. These challenges cannot be ducked or ignored, and not everyone will agree on the solutions. Our heart is in Rochdale and we will always act in the interests of our communities – our member owners would never allow us to act any differently.

We all know that Rochdale town centre will not thrive without genuinely high quality, affordable housing – and a mix of housing types that provide for every household type and every family unit. Residents have consistently told us that they want to see more family homes with gardens, but they are in short supply. Some people really value high-rise living, but demand for these homes is consistently low. The blocks at College Bank are over fifty years old – without enormous investment, they will not continue to provide safe, high quality homes over the next generation. Independent analysis puts the cost of refurbishing all seven blocks at over £90m.

It is with this backdrop that we have been working together with the community over the past three years. We know that not everyone will agree with us, but we are disappointed that a small but very vocal minority continually seek to make false and misleading claims about the motives of our team.

Our proposals aim to provide great homes for current and future residents of the College Bank and Lower Falinge neighbourhoods. We know that this is difficult and unsettling for some residents, which is why we have put in place dedicated professional support, and guaranteed that all residents who wish to stay in the town centre area can do so – with the same tenancy conditions and rights.

We have recently held constructive discussions with senior Councillors. Our door is open to anyone who wants to work with us to deliver what we all agree on – genuinely affordable, great homes for current residents and future generations in Rochdale town centre.

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