Transformation

This year, visitors to the Northern Roots site will see the beginning of a programme of work that will transform the Northern Roots site for everyone. This transformation will begin in February 2024 with the development of Phase 2 of the Urban Farm.

Northern Roots established the small first phase of the Urban Farm on the meadow at the northern end of the 160-acre site in 2023. With the support of local young people, volunteers and businesses we built two 18 metre polytunnels, created outdoor growing beds using the no-dig method, and held our first produce sales.

Northern Roots partnered with Hive5 Manchester, who now manage the Urban Farm apiary, and supported local business WRF Composting to set up and operate at the Urban Farm.

The Phase 2 development will expand the Urban Farm by a further four acres on the field directly in front of the proposed Visitor Centre. It will enable Northern Roots to showcase upscaled urban and regenerative farming techniques with a focus on providing healthy, locally grown food.

As well as growing a wide range of vegetables and salads, we’ll plant native fruit and nut trees, flowers for cutting, dye and apothecary gardens and plants for foraging. Chickens will be kept to help control pests and weeds, fertilize the soil, and produce eggs.  The current apiary will be expanded to include more hives.

The Northern Roots project is a long-term project, that will evolve across the next five to ten years as funding permits. This development is the first phase of a wider plan, which includes the creation of a Bike Hub and trails, adventure play facilities, further Learning and Wellbeing facilities, and a swimming pond.

Phase 2 Urban Farm FAQS February 2024

Vision

The Northern Roots charity is creating the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park on 160 acres of stunning, under-used green space, fifteen minutes on foot from Oldham town centre. A unique new community asset and visitor destination.

 

Vision:  Harnessing urban green space to benefit people, planet and place.

Mission: Transforming 160 acres of green space into a destination for learning, leisure and growing to benefit the environment, and improve health, wellbeing and livelihoods.

 

Northern Roots is being developed for and with local communities and will create a wide range of activities, facilities and business opportunities on the site. From growing edible crops at scale, bee-keeping and animal husbandry, to mountain biking, outdoor events, and arts and culture, there will many opportunities for local people – and visitors – to discover, utilise and enjoy the site.

Plans

Northern Roots was initiated by Oldham Council, which owns most of the site. Feasibility work started on the project in 2017. Over the last six years the Northern Roots team has been working with experts in business modelling, ecology, landscape architecture and green technologies, and consulting with local communities, to explore what could and should be done on the 160-acre Northern Roots site.

An initial masterplan proposal for the site was shared for public consultation in August 2021. Five months of in-depth community consultation followed, involving consultation events, site tours, community co-design sessions and online consultation. Feedback from this consultation was used to revise the masterplan, and to help shape designs for the Visitor Centre and Learning Centre.

Northern Roots submitted a hybrid planning application in April 2022. The hybrid planning application for Northern Roots was unanimously approved by Oldham Council in October 2022. Oldham Council issued approval of planning permission for the scheme, which includes detailed planning permission for the Visitor Centre, Learning Centre, Forestry Skills Centre, Solar array and sports pitches, and outline planning permission for an Urban Farm and swimming pond.

Set in woodland at the northern end of the site, the Visitor Centre will offer café, shop, exhibition, performance, learning and meeting space. Four existing football pitches will be given a much-needed refurbishment, with two of them relocating next to Glodwick Cricket Club. Access improvements to the Northern Roots site will also be made and car parking areas created.

A separate application for a new Bike Hub and Trails facility on the Northern Roots site was submitted in April 2022 and unanimously approved by Oldham Council in August 2022. Work will begin on the Visitor Centre and other elements in 2024.

Location

The Northern Roots site is located fifteen minutes on foot from Oldham town centre, in Greater Manchester. The 160-acre site stretches from Alexandra Park in the north, past Park Bridge Heritage Centre, to Bankfield Clough in the south, where it looks out onto the foothills of the Peak District. It is bordered by the communities of Glodwick, Fitton Hill, Hathershaw, Alt, Park Bridge and Bardsley.

https://northern-roots.uk/discover/find-us/

Produce grown at Northern Roots in Oldham.
Volunteers helping to create no-dig growing beds at the Northern Roots Urban Farm.
Urban Farm produce sale, summer 2023.
WRF Compost Service at Northern Roots.