Changing Places in Rochdale: Two Important New Installations

Tracing its history as far back as the Domesday Book, Rochdale has always played an important role in the landscape of Lancashire life. However, as with all great towns, Rochdale understands the need to preserve that rich heritage whilst also moving forwards. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and a little elbow grease from RISE, Rochdale is ready start its next chapter.

Key Takeaways:

  • RISE has partnered with Rochdale Borough Council to deliver a series of five Changing Places works in the Rochdale area, a mix of adaptations and modular units
  • The works commenced in June, with the last due to be finished before the end of the year
  • The Council took pains to select sites that would have the largest area of effect for both the local community and tourists, with a variety of different locations with different use cases used
  • RISE won praise from the Council for its amazing customer service, making the process easy and the high levels of support they provide from start to finish


Check out the video version of this case study on YouTube

Heywood Sports Village: An Inclusive Community Hub

Stepping in front of the camera, Kathryn Bamford looks a little nervous. “I’m not really used to doing things like this,” she says. “I’m more used to being behind the scenes!”

We’re at Heywood Sports Village, a large leisure centre in the north of the borough. The morning’s been chilly, but clear; a crisp Pennine breeze gently shakes the trees that surround the compound. Over on the astroturf, a group of joggers are on a morning run, while inside a steady stream of older people file past the check-in desk, heading off to classes, swimming, making use of the steam room. As I arrive a busload of schoolchildren pull up, piling off their coach and making their excited, higgledy-piggledy way to the changing rooms. It’s obvious from the outset; the Sports Village is an important asset in the community, acting as a central hub for the area’s diverse communities.

Kathryn, a Building Surveyor for Rochdale Borough Council, greets me with a smile and a handshake. We’ve spoken by email before, but putting a face to a name is one of the best parts of my job. I get to see the positive results of the work that we do – the impact it has both on our clients directly and the people they serve. We meet inside Heywood’s CPT adaptation, a bright and clean space, to film a short interview and debrief on the build process.

“The locations were decided before my time. We’ve put them in places we think the public would find the most useful,” she tells me. “I’ve been here to deliver and oversee the programmes.”

A difficult task?

“Working with RISE was a pleasure, actually. It was a very easy process because they were there every step of the way and so professional. I met Ben Hickey [RISE’s Director of Changing Places] at the very beginning of the process to make sure the sites were feasible – he explained everything thoroughly, and then Vlad [Petcuci, Operations Coordinator] took me through every step of the process and programme of works, which just made my job a lot easier. From beginning to conclusion, right the way through, they went above and beyond. I’d use them again in a heartbeat.”

Rochdale Borough Council appointed RISE to install five Changing Places toilets across the region. Two adaptations at Heywood Sports Village and Middleton Arena and one modular pod at Hollingworth Lake are already complete, with two more pods at Rochdale FC and Falinge Park on the way before the new year. With such a variety of projects on deck, and having worked closely with the team over a number of months, I asked Kathryn what the best part about working with RISE is.

“I think their customer service, really. Sometimes when you get a contractor on board, communications can become a bit grey or distant and you can’t always reach them when you need them. That wasn’t the case with RISE – every time I had a question or a query there was somebody at the end of the phone, which was really impressive.”

Reflecting on our conversation, I could see the care with which the sites in Rochdale had been selected. Heywood and Middleton Arena are obvious choices as community hubs, Rochdale FC provides facilities for The Dale’s fanatical followers, while the installations at Hollingworth Lake and Falinge Park open up the area’s green spaces to new possibilities, both for visitors and for local businesses. Being able to facilitate important works like this in a way that not only delights clients but serves their communities is one of the best parts of the job – in many ways, it’s our core motivator.

As if on cue, our conversation is interrupted by a knock at the Changing Places door. “Excuse me, is this the toilet?” We smile and nod, ushering them inside before leaving them in privacy. It’s a first for me; I’ve never actually been on a visit to a site where a CPT was being used while I was there! The Council have obviously done their homework. From my chats with staff at the Village, it quickly becomes obvious that the Changing Place is in near constant use – something we always like to hear.


Bringing Heywood’s CPT To Life

The adaptation at Heywood Sports Village has everything you’d expect from a RISE installation; fully compliant with the BS8300 standard, it also features an accessible shower and appropriate non-slip flooring and drainage, making it ideal for visitors who need extra assistance when changing after training sessions or swimming. Adapting the facility involved converting two existing accessible toilets into one room with sufficient space for a powered wheelchair, a vital component of compliance with legislation. In all, our adaptations team completed their work in under two weeks – crucially, the installation was completed in such a way that the Village was able to remain open throughout the process, with mess and disruption to customers kept to an absolute minimum.

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Hollingworth Lake – A Pennine Gem

After finishing up at Heywood, I took our videography crew from LensGo up to Hollingworth Lake.

I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe a fishery, or a small boating lake. Having lived in Manchester for several years, I’d come to Rochdale with some preconceived notions. As it’s only a few miles outside of the Greater Manchester border, I expected something like Hyde or Ashton Under Lyne – an old Victorian business town, beautiful in its own rugged way, redolent of its Industrial Revolution heritage with the requisite ‘dark, Satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem.

You’ll forgive my surprise, then, when I turned a corner and was greeted by a vast expanse of water, nestled in a mid-Pennine embrace, surrounded by lush countryside. Out on the lake, I see kayakers and windsurfers; boats are moored at the marina, which plays host to cafes, restaurants, pubs, and fish and chip shops, all of which seem to be doing brisk trade for a Thursday afternoon in September. I mentally tell myself off for spurning this little oasis after having it in striking distance for so long.

Hollingworth Lake’s Changing Places is situated at the Visitor’s Centre for the eponymous Hollingworth Lake Country Park. Having won a Travellers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor in 2021, the Country Park’s reputation is well-earned; the Changing Places toilet is part of a wider scheme of works to improve facilities onsite, which includes the expansion of the existing Visitor’s Centre from a small hut into a larger, more welcoming tourist attraction. Though mine is a whistlestop visit, I take the opportunity to wander through the woodlands, up to the Lake and have a few minutes communing with nature. I took a moment to reflect on how privileged I was that I could do this almost without thinking, whether I’d be able to do the same if I were less mobile, what compromises I’d have to make. Experiences like this, for me, reinforce the importance of the work that we do; we’re not just installing toilets, we’re bringing freedom and comfort to over a quarter of a million people.

The pod at Hollingworth Lake is our standard CP+0 model; compact, but feature-rich. Our modular units are fabricated offsite and craned into position on completion of groundworks – this makes them ideal candidates for high-traffic tourist spots like the Lake. Our team can spend just a few days on-site preparing the ground before having the new unit hoisted in place and secured to foundations and utilities in less than a day. Commissioning quickly and to a high standard is something we pride ourselves on – once a CPT is finished, we want to see it in action as soon as possible!


Goodbye to Rochdale…For Now!

This little trip out to Hollingworth brought my time in Rochdale to a close, for now – but I’m already planning my next visit (home game when we finish the Rochdale FC job, perhaps?). What struck me most about the conversations I had and the people I met on my trip was they were all so supportive of and so grateful for the work that RISE does; almost every person I spoke to had a story about a friend or a relative that needed Changing Places toilets and couldn’t access them, and how helpful these new installations would be. Proof positive, for me, that Changing Places change lives.

Give Your Community The Gift Of Accessibility

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To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.

Call: 07729 224 738
08:00-18:00, Mon-Fri

To learn more about Changing Places, why not download our brochure or attend one of our monthly online seminars.

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