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statement by edr consulting LTD: This document represents the independent views of EDR Consulting, who were commissioned to carry out a retrospective of RDA’s activities. P.Woodhouse

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INTRODUCTION Rochdale Development Agency (RDA) was created in 1993 as a new type of organisation bringing the public and private sectors together to promote the economic regeneration of Rochdale Borough. It was born of the need from local partners to provide a visible expression of public/private partnership working and the urgent requirement to stimulate economic activity and delivery. The Coopers Lybrand Report commissioned by RMBC and Rochdale Training and Enterprise Council had identified a number of pressing challenges, exacerbated by the early 1990’s recession. These included low levels of private investment activity, loss of important local

firms from the borough and a comparatively poor track-record in securing public sector regeneration funding. The ultimately unsuccessful City Challenge (CC) Bid had nevertheless demonstrated the benefits of a more collaborative approach between public and private sectors. The concept of a Rochdale Development Agency had been developed during the CC Bid and the borough decided to follow through with implementation of this innovative partnership. It was one of the first of its type and is a model which has been replicated in different ways in many local, sub-regional and regional development agencies throughout the country.

As the saying goes, Rochdale Development Agency ‘does what it says on the tin’. Rochdale

the agency is focused solely on promoting and developing the Borough of Rochdale


it specialises in physical and economic development


RDA is an agent for Rochdale MBC and partners, acting as a bridge between the public and private sectors

Rochdale Town Centre 2


The Agency was set up in, and remains, a company structure, that operates at arms-length from the local authority. This status has brought many advantages: „„ nimbleness in responding to new opportunities and market changes „„ empathy and engagement with private sector „„ a strong public/private partnership ethos „„ a more dynamic and entrepreneurial style suited to the work in which the Agency is engaged

Evolution from 1993 to 2010 Over the years RDA has evolved in response to different policy drivers and challenges. This can be split into three phases:

1993 to 1998

1998 to 2003

The focus of the agency in this period was upon inward investment and retaining companies within the borough; progressing new employment sites (including resurrecting the development of a business park on Kingsway) and assisting in securing the first Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programmes

Transition to become the economic and physical development agency for the borough, particularly thorough the successful SRB programmes, and continued progress on the Kingsway Business Park project, with the preparation of an implementable plan and the selection of the development partner

2003 to 2010 This phase saw transition of RDA to being more of broad-based agency, focussing on delivering key Council strategies such as the Rochdale Renaissance Masterplan, Housing Market Renewal ‘Pathfinder’ (HMR) and Rochdale Economic Development Strategy, plus an expanded role in delivering town centre regeneration and management responsibilities for the Kingsway Business Park team.


Structure of this Document This document aims to show how the agency has contributed to the strategic objectives of Rochdale MBC and key partners by assessing the main activities, outputs and outcomes delivered by the Agency since its inception, but with particular emphasis on the last 10 years. The report provides an independently assessed and verified record of RDA’s achievements since inception, but with a particular focus on the last decade when acting as lead economic development agency for Rochdale borough. As a contribution to learning lessons for the future during a challenging fiscal environment, there are some case studies of individual projects. The report looks at the main functions which the Agency has delivered, and for each describes: „„ its particular role and how it goes about its work „„ provides ‘headline’ achievements in outputs and outcomes „„ case studies to illustrate aspects of its work „„ seeks to provide a balanced evaluation of the achievements delivered to date The structure and content of the report has been the responsibility of EDR Consulting Ltd as independent consultants, with RDA providing original source material and responding to requests for information.

The statistics in this report have been aggregated from original files and published reports. If it was not possible to find original evidence from a project then this has not been included. The aggregate statistics may therefore understate outputs and outcomes.


EMPLOYMENT SITES AND PREMISES Bringing forward sites for employment and economic development has been at the core of RDA’s functions since day one. The objectives of the Council and its partners have been two-fold; firstly to create new employment sites attractive to modern industry and which might serve to attract new firms to the borough and secondly to assist existing industry to adapt sites and premises.

Over the last 10 years, RDA has

The work that RDA has undertaken has therefore taken many different forms ranging from:

Facilitated the development of

„„ bringing forward new sites, such as Kingsway, Waterfold and Buckley Road

hectares of industrial & commercial land

„„ area regeneration, such as Canalside, Rochdale and Green Lane, Heywood „„ redeveloping old industrial complexes; Wallhead Mills and Royle Works, Rochdale „„ regenerating individual buildings; Unique Mill and TOPS managed workspace, the Crossfield Mill project

127.11 involving


m2 of industrial & commercial floorspace Developed


m2 of managed workspace

East Central Rochdale Canalside 6



Kingsway Kingsway Business Park (KBP) is the extensive 420 acre employment site accessible directly from J21 of M62. By any standard this is a major project; the site has potential to create up to 7,000 new jobs for the area, it is the largest single development site in Greater Manchester since Trafford Park, and it was awarded the largest ever development grant from the NWDA (second only to Greenwich in the UK). Infrastructure works are completed and 4 companies are now located on the development with construction of a major regional distribution 8

facility for JD Sports also underway. Like any major site, the process of development has taken a long time. RDA first became involved in 1993, when the Council gave it the challenge to progress the implementation of Kingsway, and the Agency has been actively engaged ever since. At this point KBP had emerged from late 1980’s recession in poor shape with the then development partner not in a position to proceed and the site remaining in over 90 different ownerships.

The first major task for RDA was to put together a partnership of key public sector agencies and then work towards securing a private sector ‘lead developer’. Wilson Bowden Developments (WBD) was selected and the Kingsway Partnership was established. Although there have been different partners over the years the core shape and role of the Partnership has remained constant. RDA managed the Masterplanning process which created the new vision for the site and demonstrated how the site could be developed.

(ERDF) in respect of the project with total investment value of £350M. The next phase of development involved RDA in detailed negotiation for acquiring parcels of land and agreements with the Highways Agency for access to the M62. Once these had been secured, RDA’s mode then switched to marketing, encouraging inward investment and developer negotiations - a role that continues to this day. This summary sounds like a simple story - but it is not! There have been many challenges along the way, including two recessions and planning set-backs.

This formed the basis for various planning consents together with the compulsory purchase orders which were subsequently secured. The plans also formed the basis for the cost / value analysis which led to the successful negotiation of massive public sector investment via the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA), alongside the new development partner WBD. Some £40M public investment was successfully secured from the NWDA & the European Regional Development Fund

The role of national and regional agencies such as English Partnerships (EP) and the NWDA has clearly been critical. NWDA promoted one of their largest ever Compulsory Purchase Orders to assemble the majority of the site, and provided the largest ever grant in the region. The developer WBD has also shown huge determination and skill in bringing the site to the market. The scale of the project and development task has clearly required a strong and sustained effort by the Kingsway Partnership formed by the NWDA, WBD, RMBC & RDA.

A close evaluation of the Kingsway project provides support for the view that the benefits of having one organisation - RDA dedicated to driving the project consistently over time with the key public / private sector skill mix, has been a critical success factor in this scheme. Contributing to this has been the skills of RDA in forging strong and credible public sector partnership as basis for then securing a private developer RDA nurtured a productive relationship with EP and then NWDA and with private sector partner WBD. The ability of RDA as a public/ private partnership itself to manage and sustain the Kingsway Partnership. RDA has also negotiated a closer alignment between Kingsway and the Rochdale Renaissance Masterplan with full completion of the Spine Road, plans for a mixeduse development exploiting links with the now navigable Rochdale Canal and prospects of connections to a dedicated Metrolink Stop. Delivering a strategic site of national/regional importance for an organisation and borough without the financial muscle of a major city or a formal Urban Regeneration Company is a major achievement which is widely recognised externally.



Canalside On behalf of the Council and partners, RDA prepared far-reaching but realistic commercial plans to regenerate the area and this became the main foundation for a bid to Central Government under the then new Single Regeneration Budget programme. There was a competitive element to the early SRB programmes and it was a major boost to the borough to secure a successful bid. Canalside secured ÂŁ10.8 million public sector funding to pump-prime improvements and investment in the area and subsequently RDA spearheaded the delivery of the physical programmes, attracting significant matching public funds from ERDF and EP and leveraging substantial private investment. 10

The Agency had lead role for overall masterplan and economic development and worked alongside RMBC’s Housing Service - which provided the basis for a more integrated approach in subsequent area-based approaches to regeneration, notably under the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) programme. RDA’s role included land assembly for the development of new industrial and housing schemes. In all, 49,000 sq ft of business and commercial floorspace and 195 houses were created. In the original Canalside SRB submission, RDA suggested an innovative approach to recycling capital receipts which unfortunately was disallowed by the Treasury and thereby

eroded the spending power of the Canalside SRB partners; but it is interesting that this approach was later allowed within HMR areas. Canalside is a text-book example of creating new economic life in a rundown industrial zone and modernizing what had previously been a Lowryesque scene of disused mills intermixed with traditional terraced housing. It is also an early example of an areabased approach to holistic regeneration which was later extended and developed elsewhere in the borough, latterly in 5 designated Sustainable Communities initiatives linked to the Housing Market Renewal programme.

Heywood Distribution Park Sometimes things happen because the right people were at the right place at the right time. In 1993 the then Heywood Business Park (HBP) had deteriorated under various ownerships to the point where occupier interest was low, several properties were vacant and available units did not match well with occupier demand. At an early stage RDA identified the estate as having unfulfilled potential and were promoting it as an investment opportunity on the basis that the current owners were prepared to sell. RDA had already established contact with the Burford Group at a major property exhibition and encouraged this prospective investment interest. In 1996

Burford Group acquired HBP and RDA then worked closely with the company and the RMBC Planning Service on a masterplan to renew and selectively redevelop the estate.

one of the premier distribution and logistics sites in the Northern Region. Burford were financially rewarded when the site was ultimately sold for a significant return on their investment.

RDA encouraged Burford to pursue a more ambitious strategy than they originally intended, to make it the premier Distribution Park for North Manchester. Burford substantially increased their up-front funding to create a totally secure external boundary and spectacular new gatehouse & on-site management suite. RDA acknowledge the primary role of the developer in transforming the estate, but the Agency demonstrably had a key role in supporting the transformation of HBP into 11


Heywood Managed Workspace Scheme (The Old Police Station or ’TOPS’) The private sector often finds it commercially difficult to supply small workspace to businesses, particularly in smaller towns. As part of the Heywood Economic Regeneration Project supported by Heywood New Deal for Communities (NDC) and Heywood Township, RDA acquired and delivered on behalf of local partners, a scheme to buy and convert the Old Police Station (TOPS) into a managed offices scheme. This provides 26 offices and meeting rooms over 6,390 sq ft of floorspace and was 94% occupied in April 2010. 12

RDA’s skill has been to work with public sector investment to provide space which is needed by local businesses and which is now managed on a commercial basis by the private sector. In addition, RDA worked actively with the Heywood NDC enterprise and business support programmes. RDA thereby helped to bring ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ together on this type of project. TOPS provided an early opportunity for RDA to bring together its established knowledge of publicly-funded development schemes and the local market and support structures, together with the extensive knowledge of private

sector office schemes now available within their new development arm, Pennine Land. The project is broadly acknowledged as a successful and popular scheme, with a high occupancy rate during a period of economic recession. Part of the success of TOPS is undoubtedly a reflection of the distinctive character that conversion of an existing building can bring.

Pennine Land Pennine Land Limited is RDA’s property development arm. It is a property development company designed to operate at the interface between the public and private sectors across Rochdale Borough. Its aim is to marry the resources and expertise of the private sector with that of the public sector. This takes place often through joint venture arrangements to deliver highquality physical development schemes that contribute to the wider regeneration of urban areas Pennine Land has delivered two development projects to date: The Old Police Station at Heywood and Lock 50

Business Centre, Rochdale. Pennine Land is engaged with Rochdale Council in the delivery of a range of other important regeneration projects in Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton. A number of these schemes have involved using publicly-owned land to promote particular types of development, either public sector projects or joint ventures with the private sector.

sector. It is therefore another example of RDA bringing some innovative thinking to the local regeneration scene.

The concept of a company seeking to use public property assets in a creative way and taking a more pro-active position in the local property market pre-dates much of the recent debate about ‘assetbacked vehicles’ in the public 13

TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION The Borough’s four main town centres, Rochdale, Middleton, Heywood and Littleborough, each have a key role to play both within their townships and for the broader success of the Borough. They are fundamental to the implementation of the Rochdale Borough Renaissance Masterplan which emphasizes the need to re-establish town centres as the primary focus for shopping, civic, commercial and cultural life. RDA has played a leading role in town centre regeneration formally since 2003, when Rochdale Council extended the remit of the organisation to perform this function. RDA’s involvement in Middleton Town Centre prior to 2003 was linked to their involvement in the Middleton Pride (SRB2) initiative. Some of the major projects delivered by RDA are:

The particular skills mix of RDA is crucial to the regeneration role in town centres which requires in-depth experience of masterplanning and urban planning skills, property acquisition and development, commercial acumen, design appreciation and an understanding of both developer and end-user requirements, project management and programming skills. Examples of how these skills were used are shown in the following case studies.

Examples of Major Town Centre Projects Middleton Shopping Centre Expansion and Bus Station Middleton Arena and Tesco Rochdale Town Centre East Acquisitions Drake Street Improvement Programme, Rochdale Heywood Town Centre Economic Regeneration Programme Heywood Property Improvement Programme Littleborough Site Development Briefs Middleton Arena


Over the last 10 years, RDA has Acquired


hectares of town centre land for industrial & commercial development Facilitated the development of


m2 of retail development Managed the improvement of


retail premises



TESCO and Middleton Arena RDA has worked closely with partners from the start in securing the massive redevelopment of Middleton Town Centre involving the Middleton Arena and new shopping superstore. RDA designed the original concept involving redevelopment of largely tired and outworn civic and leisure opportunities in the central area and the creation of a brand new facility funded from the proceeds of a retail redevelopment. This radical approach was eventually embraced by Middleton Township and RMBC, although it clearly required extensive discussion and community engagement. RDA has readily acknowledged the political drive that was necessary to guide the delivery of such a radical set of proposals over an extended period and also the key role played by RMBC and later Link4Life (the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust) in delivering the new Middleton Arena, which is the landmark building in the regeneration scheme. 16

Within this context, RDA played two crucial roles. Firstly, they identified a creative development solution to address the evident decline of Middleton Town Centre and the leakage of spending power to other locations. The identification of existing RMBC facilities as a redevelopment site enabled higher retail values to be captured by the public sector which could then be reinvested in a modern civic and leisure facility and in the regeneration of the town centre. This was an initially controversial, but ultimately successful, strategy.

Middleton Shopping Centre and Bus Station In 2003 RMBC were pursuing the construction of a new bus station with GMPTE as part of the Middleton Town Centre regeneration plans with the sale of Council land for the bus station at a nominal price. Around the same time RDA were engaged in unproductive discussions with the then owners of the Middleton Shopping Centre, but unexpectedly the Centre was sold. RDA immediately opened discussions with the new owners, Warner Estates, who were interested in refurbishing the centre. The scope for extending and improving the rather poor external facade of the shopping centre was constrained by the layout of the new bus station. RDA promoted a re-design exercise to the bus station with GMPTE which ultimately allowed both an extension of the shopping centre and an arguably more attractive and equally efficient new bus station. Secondly, RDA’s particular skills came to the fore when the Agency stepped in and acted in-lieu of a developer. The original development partner identified for the scheme experienced internal financial difficulties and was unable to proceed. At this point the end-user for the supermarket (Tesco) had been identified and RDA had assembled the key sites through Middleton Pride SRB, so RMBC felt able to ask RDA to act as the enabler of the overall scheme. RDA and their commercial agents subsequently secured a disposal for retail purposes substantially in excess of the original developer expectations and additionally saved RMBC around £2m in developer fees and profit.

The end result was a well-designed and located bus station, 14,000 sq ft of additional retail floorspace and investment and an additional £775,000 capital land receipt for the Council. This project shows the commercial sensibilities of RDA to good effect, together with the ability of Agency to respond quickly to new opportunities. One learning point was that the Council processes around the use and disposal of assets were not necessarily well-aligned with RDA’s development activities. Subsequently, in Middleton town centre and currently in Rochdale town centre, these processes have been applied in a more coherent manner.

The £13 million Middleton Arena was opened in 2009 and the new £10 million Tesco store is scheduled for completion in July 2010.



Heywood Town Centre Improvement Programme This Programme consisted of comprehensive public realm improvement works together with targeted improvements to retail and commercial frontages along the two main streets of the town centre. The programme was one of several initiatives funded by Heywood NDC where RDA was invited to implement the scheme because of its experience in the operation of such facelifting schemes under the SRB5 programme in Inner Rochdale. Over 50 properties have been improved which, alongside the landscape works, have had a significant impact on the attractiveness of the town centre. The initial scheme was run through a Property Improvement Grant Programme which contributed 70% towards costs.


Initial take-up was unexpectedly slow and the Heywood NDC timetable did not allow for such a slow build-up. RDA responded by instigating an active strategy of engagement with local traders and stronger marketing of the scheme, using early projects as exemplars for others. The promotional drive later caused some problems since this generated more demand than there were funds available (although some additional funding was subsequently identified), but meant that the Heywood NDC targets were achieved. Lessons learned from this scheme were then transferred to the development of plans for the improvement of retail premises at a key location in the central area, which dealt with a whole block of properties as one project. This ‘Block Scheme’ has clearly had a rejuvenating effect on the main shopping street and has subsequently been awarded the Dave Davison Award for Regeneration Excellence.

The key success factor has been applying a consistent approach to property improvements and persuading property owners of the benefits of the approach. It was vital that a critical mass be reached in order for impact to be maximized and this was achieved particularly through the block improvements. RDA managed this scheme, drawing upon their property and design expertise and relationships with the private sector, together with close partnership working with the local New Heart of Heywood project. RDA has had to manage relationships with both Heywood NDC as the funding body and with Heywood Township, who have an important decision-making role, especially in terms of planning. There is also the relationship with Rochdale Council as the Accountable Body for the public funding.

The combination of the Property Improvement Grant and the Block Scheme improvements is regarded as having helped transform the appearance of the main shopping street and bolstered trade in the town centre during the worst of the recession. These projects were introduced into the Heywood NDC programme at a relatively late stage and this introduced some particular delivery pressures and a few communication issues with local elected members. RDA sought to address these issues and there is a general consensus that the outcomes have been positive for Heywood town centre.


INWARD INVESTMENT AND COMPANY RELOCATION Assisting companies to invest and relocate in the borough has been a core service provided by RDA since its inception. The service helps to retain jobs by helping companies to relocate within the borough and it helps to create new jobs by assisting companies to move to the area from other parts of the UK and abroad. Since 1993, a total of 538 companies have been assisted in relocating within the Borough and 124 have been attracted from the UK and abroad (as at March 2010). The investment service acts as single point of contact for companies, offering information on property and land, negotiation with agents and developers, labour market advice and grant applications, as well as co-ordinating advice and action from partners on employment and recruitment. It also provides information to developers on market demand, grant assistance and signposting to other support agencies.

The investment team has a number of skills which companies find important: „„ Familiarity with business needs and they talk the same language as businesses „„ Excellent customer service experience and skills „„ Intimate knowledge of the local area and understanding of appropriate investor and business services relevant to the company in question „„ Extensive contacts at both local and subregional or regional level, including services such as NWDA, Business Link and MIDAS, the Manchester inward investment agency.

Lock 50 Business Centre 20

Since its inception, RDA has assisted


successful company relocations


new jobs created

6,552 jobs preserved



Our case studies illustrate different types of relocation. These have been selected from a variety of investment projects in order to better understand the nature of RDA’s role and the degree to which it demonstrates the Agency’s value and achievements. LBM is a call-centre operator. They were referred to RDA through the agency’s marketing activity. RDA undertook an extensive property search which resulted in the company taking a 25,000sq ft warehouse unit on Stakehill Industrial Park, Middleton where developers Property Alliance Group undertook substantial conversion works to transform the unit into a 500-seat call centre. The developer invested a total of £2m into the company relocation to Stakehill. During this process RDA:


„„ found a suitable property for the company „„ brought the company and the developer together to negotiate refurbishment plans „„ facilitated the successful grant application to NWDA resulting in approval of a £140,000 grant „„ arranged for Employment Links to hold recruitment/training sessions with the company, resulting in the immediate recruitment of 150 local staff „„ facilitated press release circulation to local and national papers and business editorials

Makin Metal Powders (MMP) is a local company that produces powdered metals to coat a range of products used in the manufacturing of other goods e.g. the car industry. Their former site at Wallhead Mills was in a prominent location on the outer ring road and was no longer suitable as a modern manufacturing facility, with the firm eventually occupying only one third of site and the remainder in poor condition and causing environmental problems. The company had explored various options using private consultants, but these had failed to deliver a viable scheme capable of securing planning consent. MMP asked RDA for advice and RDA set about devising a comprehensive scheme which was both commercially viable (ideally without public grant assistance) and with the prospect of gaining planning permission.

CR Laurence is based in Los Angeles, USA and following the successful acquisition of local company Ebor, the firm wished to set up a new European headquarters. Early discussions with RDA gave them confidence to pursue the Kingsway site as their preferred option. Negotiations with the Kingsway team quickly secured the key site where a 71,000 sq ft building was constructed by the Development Partner, Wilson Bowden. The move created 12 new jobs initially, with further expansion over the next few years, and secured the 55 existing jobs in Rochdale.

RDA-proposed scheme provided for new retail property on half of the site (now Kingsway Retail Park) and a new mini business park on the remainder (Blueberry Business Park). An environmental improvement package was negotiated with local residents and the scheme largely funded a new factory for MMP at the Buckley Road employment area in another part of Rochdale. RDA led the presentation of the planning case and the negotiations with local residents, who ultimately supported the project. New housing areas have subsequently been developed nearby on sites previously blighted by the old MMP factory.

The company states that RDA role was crucial in their decision to make their European HQ in Rochdale and the support received was second to none. The move demonstrates further the international appeal of Kingsway, with Japanese company Takeuchi located there and Vindon Scientific announcing European expansion plans. 23

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES/AREA REGENERATION RDA uses its specialisms in physical and economic development to lead and support work to regenerate neighbourhoods and create sustainable communities. Over the years considerable experience has been gained in this role through involvement in securing and delivering Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programmes in Middleton, Canalside and Inner Rochdale. Currently in East Central Rochdale and Inner Rochdale, RDA plays a leading role, with RDA staff providing the majority of the core team under an Area Director and in Langley, Central Heywood and Kirkholt it is an integral part of the delivery team approach. RDA’s focus is on two key parts of the development process: Planning and Co-ordination - leading and managing the process of forward planning for neighbourhoods including: „„ preparing masterplans and development frameworks „„ recruiting specialist advisers „„ procuring private developers as partners in area regeneration „„ engaging key delivery partners „„ securing public and private sector funding


„„ managing community engagement around the overall masterplanning processes Site Development - managing the process of developing sites from start to finish including: „„ site acquisition „„ remediation of contaminated sites „„ preparing development briefs „„ relocation „„ site disposal „„ developer selection „„ development management In order to perform these tasks RDA has assembled a multi-disciplinary team including key skills in town planning implementation, chartered surveying, development management, design, regeneration and economic development and property relocation advice. It is the mixing of these skills to address the challenges of different projects which enable RDA to support partners in delivering sites and developments as part of the wider regeneration programmes.

Over the last 10 years, RDA has Acquired


hectares of land for housing development Managed the development of sites for

220 houses

to date



A number of case studies might have been identified. For example, RDA with its development arm, Pennine Land Ltd (PLL), played a pivotal role in assembling funding from a variety of stakeholders in Heywood and then negotiating the acquisition of the former Boots site. RDA also secured a temporary occupier for the premises which brought 50 jobs to the site. However, on balance RDA’s involvement in the HMR programme has been identified as a more representative example. East Central Rochdale Community Hub This case study of East Central Rochdale Community Hub illustrates most of the roles and skills of RDA in area regeneration. Key elements of the Hub are: „„ Unique Enterprise Centre – a converted mill which contains managed office space, nursery, café and is the home of KYP, a charitable organization delivering training 26

courses for the local community (opened 2007). RDA developed the original Belfield Road Masterplan with urban designers, sourced funding (SRB & ERDF) for the acquisition of the site and conversion works, and acted as client for the design and building conversion works. „„ The Croft Shifa Health Centre – a new centre delivering a wide range of healthcare functions (opened 2010). RDA sourced funding for acquisition of the site, undertook the acquisition and provided early input into design process.

„„ Unity House – a daycare centre catering for elderly persons from the local community (opened 2010). RDA sourced funding for site acquisition, undertook the acquisition, sourced funding for construction and managed the initial stages of project delivery until the occupier- appointed architects implemented the agreed building scheme. „„ Heybrook Primary School, Nursery and Sure Start centre – a new facility which will provide education across the age spectrum from birth to eleven. RDA undertook site acquisition, assisted RMBC schools service in site finding as part of a revised Belfield Masterplan and worked with NWDA to resolve funding clawback issues associated with a different end-use. „„ Rochdale Fire Station – a replacement facility for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. RDA assisted Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) with site finding, worked with RMBC’s Impact Partnership on land sale and is working with GMFRS and Impact on the feasibility of reusing the existing Fire Station on Maclure Road. „„ Dean Street and Gower Street Sites – proposed new housing development on a cleared brownfield sites. RDA undertook site acquisition and acted as client for demolition and remediation and is managing the developer procurement process

Clearly the Sustainable Communities programme in Rochdale is very much a multipartnership effort and it is sometimes difficult in such circumstances to disentangle the contributions of individual organisations. All the HMR Pathfinder areas have been adversely impacted by the economic and property market recession and the collapse of confidence in the housing market throughout 2008 and 2009. However, RDA has clearly been able to deploy its core skills in terms of physical and economic regeneration and RDA’s involvement in the HMR-funded land assembly programme merits a specific reference. The Audit Commission examined this part of the HMR programme and scored this and the overall Pathfinder as ‘performing strongly’. RDA has managed the assembly of extensive amounts of land within two of the priority areas, without any significant use of compulsory purchase order powers by RMBC and with the successful relocation of several companies to other locations in the borough. RDA also astutely shifted funds it was managing for development purposes into strategic land acquisitions during the depth of the recession, such that several major housing sites are now primed for development as market conditions improve. Also, in general terms Rochdale has not experienced the negative criticism directed at other HMR Pathfinders by local communities and some other interest groups. RDA is perhaps seen at its best when working to a clear brief which plays to its strengths as an organisation rather than in delivering complex multi-agency solutions, but it clearly has shown a major commitment to community-based approaches to regeneration over the past few years.


PUBLIC SECTOR FUNDING Over the years RDA has been highly successful in putting together integrated area plans with, and on behalf of, the Council and its partners which have attracted large-scale government funding to the Borough Indeed, the idea for the Agency’s formation grew out of a failed bid for the former City Challenge regime. At the time of RDA’s creation a Coopers Lybrand report pointed to the borough’s relatively poor performance in terms of attracting external economic investment. Part of the focus for the agency was therefore to secure substantial regeneration funding on which the Borough had previously missed out. In subsequent years RMBC has significantly increased the profile and success of the borough in attracting external public funding. However, RDA has always been a key player in designing deliverable programmes, especially those linked to physical and area regeneration. Moreover, RDA remains active in designing specific funding bids for individual development projects, often mixing public and private funding to best effect. The various funding regimes and the role of RDA is summarised opposite. The process of economic regeneration and attracting public investment depends on strong partnerships between public agencies. Therefore the performance of RMBC, the original Challenge Partnership and latterly the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) in securing increased levels of external funding to the borough has been crucial. 28

However, the review of projects reveals that RDA has been a key driving force in constructing successful and credible bids and providing external funders with the confidence that programmes will be effectively delivered and good levels of private investment secured.

Over the last 10 years, RDA has Coordinated funding bids for area regeneration totaling

£114.3m Secured in the region of


of grant funding

Attracted over


of private sector investment


RDA Role

Single Regeneration Budget 1 Canalside

RDA worked with partners to secure £10.5m over 5 years with a further £16m of ERDF & EP funding

Single Regeneration Budget 2 Middleton Pride

RDA played a key role in formulating the successful £10.8m bid and as a key delivery agent

Single Regeneration Budget 3 Heart of Heywood

The Bid was co-ordinated by RDA. It failed to secure SRB funding but the area was subsequently granted New Deal for Communities 10 year funding of £52m

Single Regeneration Budget 5 Inner Rochdale

Part of the bid team in this successful £25m grant. RDA then took a lead role in delivering many of the programmes


£40m gap funding negotiated for the site development - the largest single development grant awarded in the north west region and second only to Greenwich in the UK


GOVERNANCE Company RDA is set up as a private company limited by guarantee, with a board of directors, and operates on a ‘not for profit’ basis. It operates at arms length from the Council, but is closely aligned with Council and Local Strategic Partnership strategies and policies. The Agency represents a joint venture between the public and private sectors; this enables it to foster effective collaboration across both areas. The key features of the structure of RDA means that it is: „„ governed by an independent Board on which Rochdale Council has two senior representatives „„ structured as a private company, which reinforces its independent identity and engagement with the private sector „„ staffed by people who are predominantly employed by RDA itself, with some secondees from the Council and NWDA „„ structured to operate flexibly, speedily and with a minimum of bureaucracy




The RDA Board comprises 9 non-executive Directors, one Executive Director (the RDA Chief Executive).

Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council directly provides approximately half of the Agency’s operational funding in the form of an annual grant. The remainder of RDA’s funding is generated from the delivery of various Government regeneration programmes and some property management income and fees. The Agency generates some additional external funding from both other public sector sources and the private sector, in the form of fees for specified services.

Board membership is made up from both the public and private sectors. Rochdale Council has two places on the Board, taken by the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive. Other Board Members are appointed as representatives of their business sector or due to their own personal expertise in a particular field (eg finance, marketing, HR).

Executive The Strategic Management Team comprising the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Physical Regeneration are responsible for the performance of the company, as directed by the Board’s overall strategy. The Chief Executive reports to the Chairman and Board of Directors.

Business Plan RDA operates under an agreed annual business plan which sets out strategy, priorities and outputs, financial and staffing information. This is usually agreed with the Board at its meeting in March for the forthcoming year. As with most companies, the Business Plan is the key operational document for RDA, against which it reports and is held accountable.

Staff The number of staff has varied over the years, starting with a small complement in 1993. Currently RDA has 25 staff, of which 15 have had previous experience in the private sector. It is this mix which enables the organisation to respond effectively to the Council’s policy agenda and at the same time get the best out of the private sector.

Pennine Land Pennine Land Limited is RDA’s property development arm. It is a property development company designed to operate at the interface between the public and private sectors across Rochdale Borough. The company is structured as a company limited by shares and with Rochdale Council holding a minority shareholding. Its aim is to marry the resources and expertise of the private sector with that of the public sector. Any profits from development schemes will be reinvested in future regeneration schemes within the Borough.


CONCLUDING COMMENTS One of the key lessons of the last 10 years in regeneration has been that the process of regenerating places takes time, investment and patience. Continuity in delivery, but with an ability to respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities is often a key ingredient in success. Kingsway Business Park and the redevelopment of Middleton Town Centre are perhaps the best examples of that principle in action at a local level. The structure of RDA as a company limited by guarantee has proved to be robust over the years and capable of adapting to new requirements and challenges, from its early days when RDA delivered for Rochdale TEC and RMBC as partner organisations through to the last ten years, when RDA has been closely aligned with Rochdale MBC and instrumental in delivering an important part of the Local Strategic Partnership’s economic regeneration agenda. The support of Rochdale Council has clearly been critical to RDA throughout its history and particularly at critical stages in its development over the last 17 years. RDA has undoubtedly benefited from the Council’s conscious decisions to align its own strategies with those of the LSP such that there is a coherent and consistent policy framework within which RDA can play an important delivery role.


For example, close collaboration can be seen over the years as the Agency took on key roles for the Council in urban regeneration and town centre development, playing a central role in managing and delivering SRB programmes and latterly the crucial role in helping to deliver Housing Market Renewal. The best evidence for alignment arose following the launch of the Rochdale Renaissance Masterplan, when RDA is seen to completely re-organise its business plan to reflect the relevant ‘big ideas’, or themes, in the Masterplan and this is still reflected in the latest business plan. RDA and Pennine Land delivery teams are expected to implement the Business Plan priorities and these serve to move forward the implementation of the boroughwide Renaissance Masterplan. Noticeably, the Council’s new Local Development Framework is remarkably aligned with the Renaissance Masterplan. This public sector alignment should be seen as a source of strength and an asset in the complex and difficult task of regenerating a borough with high and persistent levels of deprivation but also significant opportunities. RDA is regarded by Rochdale Council as a ‘strategic partner’ and this comes across in the overall evaluation and individual case studies where that relationship has been pivotal in many of the most successful schemes. Where the Council has provided RDA with a clear brief, even if it is a challenging one, the Agency seems to operate with greater confidence and certainty.

A primary role for RDA since its inception has been to retain and attract new economic investment in the borough by presenting an ‘investor-friendly’ face and then creating the conditions for successful investment by the private sector. The overall figures are impressive in that regard and the selected case studies provide positive examples of RDA at work in promoting such investment and retaining the confidence of both public and private investors in the borough. Clearly, balancing the twin objectives of aligning the Agency with public sector goals whilst also successfully engaging with the private sector is a challenging brief. The nature of the Agency as a public/private partnership with a board drawn from both sectors and operating on the basis of consensus has clearly assisted the balancing of these objectives. Again, this comes across in the evaluation and case studies, with only occasional indications of the tensions that would inevitably arise. As an independent observer, however, the instances of marked conflict in evaluating RDA projects and examining various other independent audits are surprisingly rare and more operational than organisational.

This retrospective study has shown that RDA has been adept at changing its role and remit at various stages to respond to the requirements of its public sector stakeholders, whilst maintaining the organisations credibility as a genuine public/ private partnership operating somewhat at ‘arms length’ from the Council. The RDA company structure has proved to be sufficiently flexible to cope with these changes and if technically the Agency operates at ‘arms length’ from the Council, the reality is that Council-endorsed policies and RDA actions on the ground appear remarkably aligned.

In many cases, RDA is indeed acting as the Council’s delivery agent. Where tensions do arise the issues may be more about communication and relationship management, an insufficiently clear client brief or issues with third-party organisations in the delivery of particular projects.


edr consulting This document has been printed on material sourced from post-consumer waste

Retrospective document  

On line document from lock 50 for board member viewing

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