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Rochdale Borough Design Awards

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Rochdale Borough Design Award updates

The Rochdale Borough Design Awards did not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's expected to return in 2021, with details being announced in summer 2021.


Voting closed at 5pm on Monday, 9 September 2019. The winners were announced at a special ceremony in October 2019.

2019 winners

The winners of the 2019 Rochdale Borough Design Awards were:

  • Rochdale Borough Design Award winner 2019 - The Strand, Kirkholt
  • People's Design Award winner 2019 - restoration of Carnegie Library, Castleton
  • Special Commendation winner 2019 - Willows Dementia Hub, Rochdale

2019 winners of the Rochdale Borough Design Awards.

The 8th annual Rochdale Borough Design Awards celebrate the best in new development design, focusing on the relationship between good design and building successful communities.

Award categories

There are 2 main awards which are:

  • Rochdale Borough Design Award - decided by a panel of experts.
  • Rochdale Borough People's Design Award - decided by a public vote.

The judges may also decide to make additional awards.

Vote for your favourite design

The shortlist for this year's Rochdale Borough Design Awards has been announced and it's time for you to rate them. 7 buildings and regeneration projects have been put forward by local people who nominated their favourites earlier in 2019.

You can view the images and descriptions of each of the buildings you can vote for below. You can only vote once. The building with the most votes at the time of closing will win. We'll announce the winner at a special ceremony in October 2019.

Voting closed: 5pm on Monday, 9 September 2019.

Buildings and regeneration projects shortlist

View images and descriptions of the buildings and projects shortlisted:

Conversion of former Santander bank to Rochdale Indoor Food Hall and Montagues Cafe

Interior and exterior of Rochdale Indoor Food Hall and Montagues cafe.

The unique project transforms a vacant former bank into a vibrant focal point in an area central to the redevelopment of Rochdale town centre. The new indoor market compliments the conservation area and shows it at its best with fantastic views from the first floor cafe area. To the right, views of the town hall and the reopened river. To the left, you can see the newer and more modern buildings.

A pragmatic approach to marrying an iconic traditional building in an historic town with a modern internal environment has led to a high quality, characterful modern design which adds to the town's growing vision without compromising the character of the existing, local listed building.

Additionally it's functional, safe and accessible. Durable materials and modern building practices were employed to deliver an energy efficient and easily maintainable building. The energy efficiency and air tightness of the existing building was upgraded to reduce the running costs by installing a new shopfront and refurbishing and double glazing the existing historic steel window frames. According to the client, the building far exceeds their expectations both in its appearance and functionality.

Greenbooth Village, Norden

Houses at Greenbooth Village.

This new ‘hillside hamlet’ at Norden comprises 42 detached, semi-detached and mews homes from 3 to 5 bedrooms. The houses follow a traditional style and vernacular based on that found in the local villages, featuring stone lintels, grey slate roofs, and sandstone sourced from a Yorkshire quarry.

While the forms of the properties are traditional, the design also incorporates clean contemporary lines. Elevations are simple and regular; varied ridge heights contribute to the character and add visual interest. Garden walls are hand built by stonemasons reflecting traditional drystone walls. Properties are oriented to maximise views from upper windows of the 2 nearby waterbodies.

The design concept is founded on the creation of an attractive, safe and convenient network of streets that supports and encourages pedestrian and cycle movement while accommodating the needs of the car and service vehicles. There is a strong and defined built form and the layout flows in a way that creates interesting street scenes when looking into the development, and maximises views in all directions when looking out.

The original culvert between the mill pond and Greenbooth Reservoir has been replaced with a new watercourse running through the site, creating an attractive water feature. This empties into the reservoir through a newly-installed waterfall. A stream-side planting scheme incorporating indigenous plants and shrubs creates a sustainable habitat for local wildlife. The homes use an average of 10% less energy due to the limitation of heat loss across the building envelope thanks to the selection of appropriate materials, known as the fabric first approach.

New homes in Lower Falinge

New homes at Lower Falinge.

This scheme comprises 19 new 2-bedroom homes for rent across 2 sites. These homes were designed to improve the quality and mix of homes in Lower Falinge and followed strong feedback from residents for more family homes with gardens in an area largely comprised of 1 and 3 bedroom flats. Feedback from new tenants has been extremely positive.

The scheme has reintroduced traditional street patterns and defined public and pedestrian spaces; it has introduced new building frontages, providing definition and consistency, as well as improving activity and natural surveillance over the public realm. The wider design of the development aims to reconcile issues of security and safety with the need to create an attractive environment that can sustain a successful community.

The scheme has been designed to ‘knit together’ the contrasting architectural elements of the nearby buildings; for example, the use of brick type to each dwelling has been considered specifically in terms of their relationship to their immediate context. The predominant gable-fronted character of the new dwellings has reference from the series of gable-ends that populate Howard Street. The historically significant Toad Lane has been restored to its former position - this means new mutually-owned homes have been delivered with addresses on Toad Lane, the birthplace of co-operation.

Residential development, Birch Hill Hospital, Wardle

Developments at Birch Hill Hospital.

The impressive former Dearnley Workhouse, built in 1877 and situated in a Conservation Area, has been converted into 44 apartments over 3 floors and 6 townhouses. The complexities involved with working with a long term disused structure have been overcome and architectural features enhanced with original materials used where possible. The townhouses have been created within what was once the refectory portion of the workhouse and hospital, making full use of the vaulted ceilings which adds detailing and interest with large elegant windows retained. 

2 further homes are incorporated into the refurbishment of the chapel building which is nestled across the public open space, the design drawing on the existing fabric and enhancing the building within its setting. Externally the boundary wall and entrance tower have been restored and retained to tie the new build portion of the development within the historic setting of the site.

There are a further 319 carefully designed dwellings across the site. Where possible the natural topography and landscape of the site have been retained; trees have been incorporated within the development, providing natural boundaries thus creating ‘isolated pockets of development’ helping to minimise the impact on the Conservation Area.

Footpaths have been included within the design of the development, making the site highly accessible by foot, as well as allowing easy access to the areas of open green space and the local primary school. The gaps within the development have been utilised effectively, offering additional green space allowing for enlarged views of the original workhouse. Overall, the residential development provides a sustainable use for the site and ensures that the iconic buildings will be maintained for future generations.

Restoration of Carnegie Library building, Castleton

Interior and exterior of Carnegie Library.

The Carnegie Library on Manchester Road, constructed with Accrington brick and Staffordshire roof tiles, was first opened in 1905 after the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated £2,500 for it to be built.

It became unoccupied in 2006 after the library was moved to Castleton Community Centre, lying derelict for a decade before being extensively refurbished.

The majority of the building has now been let as office space, and the old ground floor reading room has been let to the Friends of Carnegie Castleton group for local history displays. The original beautiful ‘maple block’ flooring, which was badly damaged, has now been repaired and reinstated.

Along with the painstaking restoration, a new, modern aspect of the building has been created which will ensure it remains relevant for many years to come.

The Strand Hub, Kirkholt

Interior and exterior of The Strand Hub.

This ground-breaking project was delivered through a partnership between the council and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), and includes a spectacular new community hub along with a new parade of shops and 16 new apartments for affordable rent.

RBH worked closely with the community and partners to address concerns identified and there are a wide range of facilities, including the RBH drop-in service, the Kirkholt Pantry project and the RBH workshop. There is also space for a new community café. The first floor community space has a large community hall, a training kitchen, and a community training room, all for the benefit of local groups.

The design provides an overall modern feel, the choice of materials creating a clean elegance, whilst reflecting elements of the surrounding buildings. This has included maintaining a similar site massing to the previous development, large uniform window openings creating a rhythm along the Strand, similar to the surrounding homes, and using materials common to the local area. The apartments have been designed to Lifetime Homes Standards, and the hub has been designed to encourage maximum use by people of all abilities.

Along with good natural surveillance provided to the front of the building, overlooking is also provided into the rear parking court and community hub garden. Landscaping across the development has been improved, including the installation of planters and seats, and the development has been accompanied by changes to the adjacent road infrastructure, reducing the proliferation of tarmac, creating a more pedestrian-friendly space, and reducing traffic flow problems.

Willows Dementia Hub, Rochdale

Interior and exterior of Willows Dementia Hub.

A specialist centre which provides exceptional support and care for those living with dementia, and their families, in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale. It was designed using Stirling University’s ‘Standards for Dementia Design’ to provide high-quality residential and day care in a welcoming environment.

The Hub’s facilities include: 18 residential rooms, respite accommodation, family rooms for relatives, a range of complimentary community services, bespoke day services, and an ‘open to all’ community café with a plan to source as much of the café’s produce from the community garden.

Users of the facilities will experience a fulfilled life delivered in a way that they best understand as they are given access to a safe environment with the choice and control to use, retain, or develop old and new skills. The unique service is delivered by a motivated staff team with the understanding, knowledge, patience, and skills to provide such a person-centred approach.

2018 Shortlisting

Shortlisting for the awards took place in July 2019.

2018 winners

In 2018, River Roch re-opening in Rochdale town centre collected the Rochdale Borough Design Award. The restoration of 2 semi-detached housed designed by famous local architect Edgar Wood at 51-53 Rochdale Road in Middleton won the People's Design Award.

2018 Rochdale Borough Design Award Winner - River Roch re-opening

River Roch re-opening. This scheme, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Environment Agency, is part of the town centre regeneration and enhancement of the town's rich heritage.

The original bridge was built in the medieval period and expanded as the town grew, with sections dating back to the Regency, Georgian and Restoration periods: it played a key role in the development of the town.

River Roch.

During the early 1900s the bridge and river were covered and were hidden from view. The reopened river is expected to bring an extra £6.72 million into Rochdale's economy over the next ten years.

The scheme comes with flood risk benefits worth £4.42 million, including flood protection for 40 properties and improved drainage for a further 500. It also reduced the impact of the Boxing Day floods by helping to prevent flood water reaching the town hall.

The project will also help attract wildlife. Brown trout, kingfishers and wagtails have been spotted in recent months. Trees and benches have been installed around the reopened river to enhance the area.

2018 People's Design Award Winner - restoration of 51-53 Rochdale Road

51 and 53 Rochdale Road exterior. This pair of semi-detached houses was designed in 1900 by the renowned architect Edgar Wood who lived in Middleton.

They are Grade 2 listed and an exceptional example of Wood's work in the Arts and Crafts style, in a prominent location contributing strongly to the sense of place of the area.

The houses have been restored through the Middleton Townscape Heritage Initiative grant scheme, with extensive work taking place to restore original features, including leaded light windows, a full re-roof in natural stone slate, stone repairs and restoration of the front doors.

51 and 53 Rochdale Road exterior at an angle. The boundary wall has been rebuilt in a herringbone pattern, with railings restored and painted. The restoration was carried out to a high standard, using traditional materials such as lime mortar and natural stone to match the existing.

The restoration of these houses has contributed positively to the street scene in Middleton and greatly enhanced this prominent corner, as well as showcasing and protecting the work of Edgar Wood.


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