Wasted spaces around Rochdale and beyond.

16 September 2015

 

At the Green Party we can see that Rochdale is a town blighted by the amount of public space that is allowed to go to waste, with many brown field sites abandoned and left to grow dilapidated, weed-ridden and strewn with litter. There are many such sites, including at least two on Drake Street, a large area next to Red Cross Street and countless others.

This land could all be put to a positive use that would have many benefits to our town and its people. We believe that if this land was transformed into public parks, gardens and allotments, it could have the potential to breathe life into our communities. We call on the council to enable people to get involved with the transformation of their local area. If a house is abandoned, the council can take it over and put it to better use; the same should be true of land that has been forgotten by its owners.

It would beautify the town, turning ugly forgotten land into attractive, thriving green spaces. The renovation of abandoned sites could provide experience and training for local people, as would maintaining the gardens and allotments, thereby benefitting the local economy. Food grown in allotments could be used by local charities to help people who are struggling to get by, and sold in restaurants and shops around the town. The parks and allotments would be a public space for everyone to enjoy.

1 Derelict Site at Red Cross Street showing abandoned site.

Most importantly, the transformation of derelict land would help to build real, functioning communities that can provide for themselves and be independent, while working together for the benefit of all. Furthermore, good public spaces would provide the opportunity for positive communal action that could change Rochdale for the better, potentially helping the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our town.

The ongoing work to regenerate the town is welcomed; however the regeneration would be incomplete if it failed to consider the importance of access to nature for people’s quality of life. Research has suggested that “living in an urban area with green spaces has a long-lasting positive impact on people’s mental well-being”, with people in these areas displaying fewer signs of depression or anxiety. This alone should be reason enough for the council to enable community groups to transform abandoned sites. Research has also shown that green spaces can reduce crime in urban areas – with a negative correlation between the amount of vegetation and the amount of crime.

There is a 6 year, 300 person waiting list for Rochdale Council allotments, not including the large numbers of people waiting for places on other allotments. This clearly represents a significant demand that could be at least partly addressed by allowing community groups to convert appropriate sites to allotment use. There are similar initiatives all over the country, such as the organisation ‘Incredible Edible’ in Todmorden, as well as many others that prove that this is possible.

Rochdale should remember its proud heritage as the birthplace of co-operation, and be the leader of a more co-operative 21st century, where communities work together for the common good, and where land is put to a use that improves people’s quality of life. Our town belongs to all of us, and we should be free to work together to make it a better place.

If you agree, join us in calling for the council to enable community groups to transform appropriate sites all over the Borough, and provide them assistance when they do.

Contact the Rochdale Green Party at info@rochdale.greenparty.org.uk to get involved with this campaign and others.