Our Funding and Partnerships Officer Paul went along to the launch of the Heritage Action Zone project and spoke about how our Co-operative Enterprise Project will make a real difference!

On Wednesday 16 May, I was honoured to represent the Co-operative College at the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) launch at Rochdale Borough Council with Historic England and partners.

The HAZ Rochdale is a five year project that will see Rochdale’s historic gateway revived by regenerating much of the Town Centre’s historic co-operative buildings and reigniting co-operative spirit in the Town, making Rochdale a better place to live, work and enjoy.

Drake Street Rochdale

The HAZ Rochdale has coincided with the Co-operative College’s Responsibility to Rochdale project that has been led and championed by our Vice Principal, Dr Cilla Ross. Both the Co-operative College and Co-operative Heritage Trust are partners in the project alongside Rochdale Borough Council, Historic England, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, Link4Life and Rochdale Development Agency.

The launch

The launch was held at Rochdale Town Hall, a significant heritage site in its own right, and a magnificent example of neo-gothic architecture and a striking image of civic pride. HAZ Rochdale project will now put co-operative heritage at the forefront of Rochdale’s civic pride and as its co-operative past is restored, it aims to sparks its co-operative future.

The launch was opened by Rochdale Council Leader and Co-operative College alumni, Counsellor Allen Brett.

“You don’t see history happen”, he said.

Cllr. Brett cited being in Berlin at the fall of the Berlin Wall and almost a decade before meeting the fearsome Idi Amin shortly before his brutal presidency of Uganda was toppled in the late 1970s. The launch of Rochdale HAZ is an important moment for the town and for co-operative heritage.

The Council Leader was followed by John Searle, Director of Economy at Rochdale Council, who will lead the project and Liz McIvor, Manager of the Co-operative Heritage Trust, and myself spoke about the significance of Rochdale’s co-operative heritage, both in Rochdale and to the wider co-operative movement.

The Co-operative College and Co-operative Heritage Trust will be involved in many aspects of the project. This includes research on “place making” with Co-operative College and MMU PhD. Candidate Cécile Berranger, designing a bespoke heritage programmes for Rochdale School and developing the Co-operative Enterprise Hub at 18 Drake Street (formerly Butterworth’s Jewellers).

Old Butterworth

The Co-operative Enterprise Hub

The Co-operative Enterprise Hub will be the home of the new Co-operative College project Together Enterprise, funded by the Co-operative Group. This project will empower groups of disadvantaged young people in Rochdale to take control of their future and explore setting up a co-operative with their peers. I won’t give too much away now, but the project will be launch in July, during the second week of Co-operatives Fortnight.

Over the next five years some very exciting things will be happening in Rochdale. The town is changing for the better. It is further embracing its co-operative history and it is bringing the values and principles that have inspired a movement of over 1 billion people internationally, back home.