Culinary arts school boasting its own cafe and takeaway could open at Greater Manchester business park

The applicant believes the spacious two-storey building – at the entrance to the Queensway business park in Rochdale – has unrealised potential.

A culinary arts school boasting its own cafe and takeaway could set up shop on a Rochdale industrial estate.

Proposals to convert a former NHS warehouse at Sherwood Business Park, in Castleton, have been submitted to the council by Haowei Property Ltd.

More recently used as a storage facility for food and kitchenware supplies, it spans 26 metres and stands at nearly eight metres in height.

The applicant believes the spacious two-storey building – at the entrance to the Queensway business park – has unrealised potential.

A planning document submitted to the local authority reads: “ The applicant wishes to develop this underused warehouse as a culinary arts school with a takeaway café to give the students real life training in the hospitality sector, so diversifying the opportunities of the workforce in the surrounding area.”

The cafe/takeaway is proposed to open six days a week, with pupils running it under the supervision of a teaching chef from Tuesday to Thursday, while dedicated staff would oversee it from Friday to Sunday.

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The teaching lab is designed to accommodate 20-42 students.

Unit 2, Sherwood Business Park, Queensway, Castleton, Rochdale. Credit: Studio Tian

Papers add: “These frontline learners will be in charge of running, inventorying and cleaning as if they were the owners of the café.  The food will be prepared and cooked and served by these students who will also prepare the food in the service kitchen rather than teaching kitchen.  

“All the students will take turns of being in charge of the café and takeaway once their competence and willingness has been approved by the teaching chefs.”

Customers would pay less than average price for dishes created by the student chefs ,who will also serve the food to the diners and expect feedback in order to improve their skills.  

The school itself would open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, but the operating hours of the café/takeaway could be adjusted to better match local customers’ needs.  

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The teaching kitchen would be on the ground floor, in the ‘existing clear span warehouse part of the building’.

Here, the double height space will provide sufficient space for the kitchen systems and -more importantly – a place for students to learn and to experiment.

The existing loading area is earmarked as a new preparation and storage to serve the main teaching kitchen.

Students would be able to move from here into a quieter seated classroom, which would host demonstrations, recipe tastings and a range of other related activities.

But it is the the office area next to the classroom that would be transformed into the café/takeaway, allowing students to gain first-hand experience ‘receiving, inventorying, cleaning, and prepping food products’.

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The entrance door will be relocated to open directly into the dining area, creating a sense of a street cornercafé/shop.

Meanwhile the mezzanine would consist of an admin office and an open-plan multipurpose workshop area where food sciences, cooking, cultural and theory etc classes will be held.

Papers say students would be welcome to use this area for research or just ‘chilling out’.

A photography/library room is proposed for the upper-level mezzanine in the easternmost corner.

The unit is accessed both via the gateway to Sherwood Business Park (for deliveries and servicing) and from Sherwood Street, where the main entrance is. Students will travel by bus and on-site parking will provide enough parking for teachers and visitors.

A landscaped buffer zone between the warehouse building and Queensway is also proposed.

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Documents say the area at front entrance on to Sherwood St will be improved by adding hedges and repairing the lawns together with proper ecological maintenance of the ‘wild’ area.

Rochdale council will decide whether to grant planning permission for the project.