Reconnecting the river to Rochdale
Revealing the Roch
CategoryMaking towns work for everyone
Proof of concept
This award was received for the restoration of the bridge
In the early 20th century the River Roch was culverted (A culvert is a structure that channels water past an obstacle) through Rochdale Town Centre hiding both the river and its 14th century historic bridge. This award was received for the restoration of the bridge; repairing damaged stonework and using heritage best practice to replace parts lost when the culvert was built. The culvert and erosion defence measures means the river cannot support life in the culverted section. The project maintains erosion protection while creating conditions for diverse river species to establish and thrive.
- Materials for the project were sourced locally to maximise investment into the local economy and reduce the environmental impacts from transportation to site.
- All subcontractors employed on the site were based in the North West.
- During the construction phase local college students took part in workshops on site to develop their learning on construction methods and techniques.
Shifting perceptions of the area
How/why did the project benefit the public?
Over 8,000 people have been directly engaged through a programme of activities to reconnect the community of Rochdale with the river. All the activities, which included art sessions, knitting workshops, and community college projects, were designed around the theme of the river and bridge being restored and have been delivered by project staff and volunteers. The new public realm created by the project includes new paved areas that link the bridge to other features with significant heritage value such as the local town hall and banks. It also improves pedestrian routes to the Metrolink which connects the local community to the wider city-region and greater employment opportunities.
What were local planners looking to achieve?
- To remove a culvert to uncover the river.
- To restore the historic Rochdale Bridge.
- To re-naturalise the river’s concrete bed so natural flora and fauna can flourish.
- To reduce the extent of town centre flood events.
- To provide a high-quality public realm to the conservation area.
- To instill a sense of pride and identity for the people of Rochdale.
Justifying the need
How were local planners essential to the project’s success?
Planners have been integral to supporting and steering the development from beginning to end and have played an important role in ensuring that strategic planning issues are seen as part of a wider growth agenda, raising the profile of planning within local authorities generally. Steering joint technical work is often challenging, but securing buy-in from both politicians and stakeholders is often even more difficult and would not have been achieved without the clear rationale and support provided by planners.