GrowTraffic has been based in Bacup, Rossendale in Lancashire for many years and whilst we’ve expanded over the border to also have a base in Yorkshire, it’s really important to us to continue to focus on trying to help the people and area in which we – and the bulk of our employees – live and work.
Over the last few years, both Rachel and I have been working, where we can, to help out. This has lead to our involvement with the multimillion-pound redevelopment of the centre of the town known as Bacup 2040 Vision and Masterplan.
Just a few years ago, Bacup’s town centre was a virtual no go area and there was a general perception that nothing could be done to save Bacup. Following the investment in a number of the shop fronts, the town centre economy has begun to improve, with a proliferation of new businesses including leisure and food and drink businesses. However, more work is essential if the town centre is to function in a manner suitable for the requirements of the local residents. Without further investment, it’s possible the progress that has been made could be lost.
The Bacup 2040 Vision and Masterplan is borne out of engagement with the local community on a multitude of different levels. Community surveys, workshops, social media activity and visits to other towns with successful high street regeneration schemes, have all been front and centre in driving the direction of the Bacup 2040 Vision and Masterplan.
I believe this genuine commitment to a community-centric approach has resulted in the core of the Bacup 2040 Vision being ideally focused on the requirements of residents, businesses and other community-focused organisations, whilst creating an approach that will help to propel Bacup into the future.
Bacup 2040 Vision represents an opportunity to not only transform the townscape into one that’s fit for the local residents but also one that promises to make Bacup a destination town that can take its place amongst, and compete with, neighbouring Pennine towns, including Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Littleborough and Ramsbottom.
I’m a marketer and an SEO consultant, but it’s in my role as an owner of a digital business, which primarily works with other digital and tech businesses, I have seen first hand the rapidly changing ways in which people live and work. And I believe the future of work is local. I am therefore passionate about the role of local economies, infrastructure and the built environment to positively impact the lives of local people. As such, it has been an honour and privilege to chair the Bacup 2040 Partnership Board.
The Bacup 2040 Partnership Board is made up of a cross-section of the community, including residents, businesses, community groups, councillors and council officers. As such, there has been a high degree of participation from the community. It is in this capacity that the Bacup 2040 Partnership Board and its subgroups have worked tirelessly to inform, challenge and validate the scope and proposals for the redevelopment of Bacup.
The contributions of the Bacup 2040 Partnership Board and subgroups are undeniable, with a large number of recommendations from the various subgroups making their way into the final proposals. Additionally, I was pleased a number of potentially controversial areas – including parking and the Coronation Fountain – were included, with proposals being discussed at length and perfected in several rounds of well-attended workshops, to ensure the community’s views were incorporated.
We’ve worked week-in-week-out for around a year and we’ve continued to scrutinize proposals throughout the lockdown period – if just in the form of virtual meetings.
The Bacup 2040 Vision will provide a town centre that is vibrant and welcoming to local people and visitors alike. The plan emphasises the uniqueness and character of our historic town, moving it away from a town people drive through to get somewhere else, to a destination in its own rights.
There will be easy access to car parking due to the improvements made to existing car parks, as well as the inclusion of well-positioned managed parking provision throughout the area.
What’s more, congestion will be eased with better-managed thoroughfares and the promotion of active transport. There will be a focus on cycling; to benefit from the large numbers of cyclists currently passing through the area, whilst also benefiting from the nationally renowned Lee Quarry cycling facilities on the outskirts of the town. In addition to this, the new pedestrian promenade, which runs the entire length of the new proposals, joins up the centre of the town for pedestrians, to encourage walking throughout the town, which isn’t currently the way the town is being used.
The focus on the diversification of the use of buildings in the town centre is important to realise the ambition of creating a town that’s fit for the foreseeable future. By moving the town away from being solely orientated towards a retail offering, the plan brings new opportunities for leisure, food and drink, retail, commercial and residential; all working together. This is vital to create a working high street economy that can withstand the pressures and changes brought about by societal and economic factors, which have reduced the role of the old high street model over the last couple of decades.
As Bacup currently has a large number of long-term derelict buildings, which have been identified in the Bacup 2040 Vision, there is an opportunity to bring these back into life in new and exciting ways. The proposals include quality residential, retail, community ventures, leisure facilities and much more, with a range of mixed-use initiatives. I believe this will not only breathe new life into buildings that are seen as a blight but will also raise perceptions of the town, reduce anti-social behaviour and foster a new sense of civic pride in Bacup.
Whilst the proposals have to be taken in the round, it is the market square development that is the lynchpin of the whole redevelopment of the town. It is from this central hub in the core of the town that all the other strands make sense. The development here will revitalise what is currently a comparatively poorly utilised market, diversifying the current retail offering and creating a new food and drink hall, to provide a draw into the heart of the town centre.
I believe this will act as the fulcrum and catalyst for Bacup, both in terms of the daytime and emerging nighttime economy. It provides opportunities to bring into the town centre those people who use the area to benefit from the cultural and leisure facilities, including walkers and ramblers, horse riders, cyclists, theatre-goers and many more.
The new events focus of the market square will see Bacup come alive throughout the year, creating a ‘must visit’ destination, which along with the desperately needed overnight accommodation, will complement the area’s vital role as part of the ‘Adrenaline Valley.’
We have already seen the benefits a small regeneration scheme can have on the economy of Bacup. However, the town still requires significant investment and sympathetic redevelopment, if it is to regain some of its former glory and historic stature.
I am confident the Bacup 2040 Vision and Masterplan offers a roadmap to renew and reshape our historic and characterful if depressed and slightly ‘worn around the edges’ milltown, to drive economic growth and sustainably improve living standards, for the benefit of generations to come.