Last week our colleagues at made-here were invited to talk to a group of cultural and retail organisations in Oldham about their story of being the ‘pop-up that stayed up’ and how they are innovating on the high street.
The room was full of people really bursting to contribute to their town and to make a difference – well, they are already doing that to be honest! People in the room were running independent fashion shops, creating theatre in empty shop units, re-igniting the sewing industry and generally being industrious and creative!
What amazed and inspired us alongside this energy was the approach of the council to developing not just the town but it’s microbusinesses. The council has bought a number of buildings and is continuing to do so, in order to create a vibrant Independent Quarter. They have created a £1 million pot to invest in new and existing independent businesses, refurbishing premises, assisting businesses to buy their own premises – because this council understands that businesses who own their own premises remain committed to an area for the longterm. There is also a programme of business support – don’t yawn ….. it somehow feels like this is a good thing in this town and that it will be delivered well, and differently!
The council want us to ‘see Oldham differently’, the Independent Quarter is just part of the wider and ambitious regeneration taking place in the town. Their £100m capital programme includes a number of landmark regeneration projects
They also understand meanwhile use and the value of the arts as they continue to invest in and encourage animation of the streetscape
We look forward to making some places with Oldham in the near future and to keeping in touch with the development of their Independent Quarter and the amazing people we met there.