The Dale Mill proposals for the 1.8ha site next to the River Roch received glowing praise from CABE when it was presented to the commission's design review panel last month.
The commission went on to say: 'There is nothing more powerful than a built project to demonstrate the quality of development expected and provide a benchmark for future development in the area.
'We believe that this scheme - could help champion good design in the Housing Market Renewal area and therefore be of national significance.'
The development, won in competition in 2003, will create 62 houses and 23 flats aimed at providing homes for the 'extended family structures' of the Wardleworth neighbourhood community, predominantly of south-Asian heritage.
The scheme is being delivered by developer BASE - a partnership between Barratt homes and Artisan Holdings - in collaboration with Rochdale Development Agency, the Oldham Rochdale HMR Pathfinder, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, English Partnerships and West Pennine Housing Association.