Mutual housing in development on historic Toad Lane

The co-operative movement’s historic Toad Lane is entering a new phase of co-operative development. Work has begun on central Rochdale’s first ever new-build mutual housing, on a site...

The co-operative movement’s historic Toad Lane is entering a new phase of co-operative development. Work has begun on central Rochdale’s first ever new-build mutual housing, on a site which includes the original Toad Lane, which was the birthplace of the Rochdale pioneers.

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), the only mutual housing society jointly owned by tenants and employees, is redeveloping the Redcross Street and Waterhouse Street area of Lower Falinge.

Its scheme involves demolition of two existing blocks, Cartmel and Frieston, to make way for 30 family homes and bungalows designed by OMI Architects. There will be 16 two-bedroom houses, seven two-bedroom bungalows, one three-bedroom bungalow, four three-bedroom houses and two four-bedroom houses, some of which will have a Toad Lane address.

Contractor Casey started demolition work on the site in October and the new homes are scheduled to be completed in November. The properties, formerly owned by Rochdale Council, were taken over in March 2012 by RBH, which now also owns the company set up to develop new housing in the borough.

Last month, its members voted to transfer the assets of the wholly owned development subsidiary Brighter Horizons into the main RBH society.

Brighter Horizons was set up when RBH was part of the council to deliver new and refurbished homes and has developed over 70 since 2008.

Clare Tostevin, head of strategy and regeneration at RBH, said the duplicated costs of maintaining two organisations would now be removed: “As a mutual, RBH is now able to build high-quality new homes without the need for a subsidiary,” she said. “We’ve already delivered new homes for tenants on Waithlands Road in Newbold and Longridge Drive in Heywood, with more planned across the borough. Bringing Brighter Horizons into RBH means we can save money and use these savings to deliver better services for all our tenants.”

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing's development at Lower Falinge is scheduled to be completed in November
Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s development at Lower Falinge is scheduled to be completed in November

The scheme at Lower Falinge would transform an area of poor visual quality, she said. “Removal of the Cartmel and Frieston blocks is a big change for Lower Falinge, and this redevelopment sends out a very positive message about the future of this neighbourhood.

“The well designed and warm new homes will be at the heart of the local community, and will provide a more diverse range of home options in an area that currently only provides one and three bedroom flats.”

The new homes will be contemporary in design, making best use of the land available and giving them an identity of their own, while being sensitive to the surrounding concrete blocks. Landscaping will introduce greenery and high quality materials in an area which had little good quality amenity space.

David Rodgers, the former International Co-operative Alliance housing president, visited the site last March. He said: “The Rochdale pioneers would be cheering at the idea of co-operative homes on Toad Lane, and these proposals show that their legacy lives on.”

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