We first came together a couple of years ago with the aim of promoting the redevelopment of Warwick Mill, the largest building in Middleton, which has been mostly unused for decades and is now quickly becoming derelict. Anyone passing through the town centre can’t fail to notice it – a beautiful, old building, windows smashed and boarded up, shrubs and trees growing from its walls and roof, communicating a sense of decay and neglect.
Its private sector owners for the last 6 years have done nothing with it since they bought it, and the Council’s attempts to communicate with them had, until very recently, been fruitless. We had hoped that the Council would be able to take over the Mill and support the local community to redevelop it for the benefit of the whole community. At the moment, unfortunately, it looks like that won't be possible as the owners are now putting forward their own plans.
We still hold the vision of a Middleton with a community-owned-and-run Warwick Mill at its heart, but we also have a wider vision for the town that holds good with or without it. We've been working hard to develop and share a new approach to local community-led economic development across Middleton.
This new approach is founded on the principles of the co-operative movement, controlled by local people, and builds on the community wealth building work that’s now happening in many places across the country.
We want to make a positive difference to the things that have the biggest impact on the quality of people's day-to-day lives - housing, care, transport, health and well-being...
So, what started with a focus on Warwick Mill is growing into a partnership between local residents and businesses, along with organisations from the voluntary, community and public sectors, working together to deliver community-led economic development based on a co-operative approach to community wealth-building – Middleton Co-operating.