TOWN hall chiefs reckon that putting their money where their mouth is may prompt other big investors to buy into their vision for Oldham.

Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding voiced high hopes that the authority’s £306 million investment into the regeneration of the town would attract even more investment from the private sector.

Cllr Fielding said that the “Creating a Better Place” would bring 1,000 new jobs, 100 new apprenticeships and 2,000 new homes in the town centre.

Plans yet to be finalised also include bringing Oldham’s unique heritage buildings in the town centre – particularly in the Union Street corridor - back into use.

He told The Oldham Times that the plan was “not just about creating shiny new buildings”, but also about how the council’s capital investment plan can deliver “maximum benefit for all people as well and is also investment in all the towns and communities right across the borough”.

Cllr Fielding went on: “We know we're getting a new Saddleworth School, which has been long in the making and we're also investing in Royton Town Hall to create a community for new library space. We're also looking at the feasibility of new health centres in both Chadderton and Shaw.

“So, places right round the borough are seeing investment as part of the Creating A Better Place programme.

“We're also seeing how, realistically much of the investment will be focused on Oldham town centre. But how is it that we can deliver on the priorities of everyone right across the borough?

“What people have told us that they want us to invest more in residential properties in Oldham town centre, which has implications for our green belt allocations under the Spatial Framework.

“So it will take some pressure off that. They want Oldham town centre to be a better place to visit - where there are fewer empty units whether they're filled with shops, bars, restaurants or whatever they may be. They want Oldham town centre to be a more vibrant place and a destination.”

Cllr Fielding said discussions had taken place with the Tommyfield Market Traders Association over the future of the market, which “people are really fond of.”

He said: "They just want certainty around what is happening to them.

“We've told them that we're committed to keeping a market in Oldham town centre because we know that people are very attached to it.

“But also, rather than making it another clone town that just looks like anywhere else with all the same shops, we want the market to be something that makes Oldham quite unique.

“We want to sustain that. So they've had a commitment from both me and the rest of the Labour group that there will be a Tommyfield Market under the new plans, but we're not able to say yet exactly where that will be, or what it will look like. But there will be a home for those traders and they were sufficiently reassured on that.”

And he continued: “But on top of all of that, the building and the investment in the physical infrastructure in assets right across the borough, it's also about how we can deliver for residents.

“And what I mean by that is that this capital investment programme has the potential to create more than 1,000 new jobs and 100 new apprenticeships and so there's a really focus on the social value that we can deliver from every pound that we spend as Oldham Council.

“The new jobs will mean that people will be able to provide for their families and support the local economy. The apprenticeship opportunities will mean that it will be giving people the skills which can then lead them to have successful careers.

“Much of the criticism around working skills and education around Oldham town centre that we face is often around empty units, but also about how we don't have enough ell paying jobs.

“And so this capital investment programme will address those aspects of our challenges in Oldham too.”

Cllr Fielding said that over the last 12 to 18 months he and head of regeneration Roger Frith had met with various developers and investors who want to come into Oldham.

Their message, he said, was they “just want to know where the council stands”.

“They said you need to out yourselves and tell us what your vision is, so we can get on board with it.

“They really want to come here, spend some money, whether it be on apartments, new leisure units, restaurants, or whatever.

“They just wanted clarity on where we stood, and, hopefully, we’re saying we’re putting our money into this.

“The £306 million is actually, but actually this should be a catalyst for money coming from other places.

“Local authorities' role now seems to be to demonstrate that there is a market where the private sector doesn't believe there is one.”