£25m plan for Croal Valley housing development revealed

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One of the UK’s leading build-to-rent developers is set to submit a planning application for more than 130 high-quality homes to be built in Bolton town centre (in the Croal Valley intervention area).

Placefirst Central The £25 million proposal spearheaded by North West-based Placefirst is a transformational, residential-led, mixed use scheme designed by award winning international architecture and design practice Levitt Bernstein. Manchester-based Maddox Planning is acting as planning consultant.

The proposal for a key 1.1-hectare brownfield site in Bolton town centre is part of Bolton Council’s £1bn masterplan to transform the town centre. Placefirst is working with Bolton Council to regenerate the site.

It is located to the north side of Deansgate, opposite the former Beales/Whittakers department store. On the site currently are vacant buildings and the Central Street surface level car park. The site extends north from Deansgate to the River Croal.

Placefirst has worked collaboratively with Bolton Council and other stakeholders for the past two years.

Its objective is to ensure that the right design and composition of development for the site is achieved. The developer has also put its proposals to a number of independent design review panels and held detailed discussions with the Civic Trust and local stakeholders.

The high-quality development proposed comprises a new avenue of town houses running uphill from the river embankment and a mixed residential and commercial building fronting Deansgate.

The development is designed around a network of pedestrian priority streets, a spacious square, courtyards, rooftop terraces and residents’ gardens.

Designed to be attractive to a broad range of local residents, the homes to be provided include a choice of family town houses of two and three bedrooms and one and two-bedroom apartments.

To complement the new homes, Placefirst is also proposing a range of ground floor commercial units to enrich the vibrancy of what is set to become a key thoroughfare in Bolton town centre.

In partnership with the Council, Placefirst is also planning for the enhancement of the River Croal embankment. This links with a wider Council strategy to improve the river environment in the town. CW Studios is leading the landscape design.

The proposals are designed with the objective of complementing the historic fabric of Bolton centre through a mix of interesting, high quality buildings and well thought-out public spaces including a new courtyard square.

New town centre car parks elsewhere are set to replace the Central Street surface level car park.

Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Martyn Cox, said: “Croal Valley is a key site in Bolton Council’s £1bn town centre masterplan and Placefirst’s plans are set to transform what it means to live in Bolton town centre with the focus on high quality residential properties and attractive public spaces making it a more desirable place to live and work.

“These plans show that developers have confidence in Bolton despite the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and demonstrates the commitment that investors are prepared to make.”

David Mawson, chief executive for Placefirst, commented: “Our vision for this Central Street development is much more than just bricks and mortar and is about creating a thriving community in the heart of Bolton.

“We’ve a proven track-record of regenerating areas and turning them into places people love to live, so am extremely excited about the transformation we’ll make to the town centre through this ambitious development.”

Placefirst’s Planning and Development Manager James Litherland added: “The proposals have been a long time in the making and we are delighted to now be in a position to submit for planning. We see great potential in Bolton and want to address the lack of high-quality housing within the town centre.

“The development will see this prominent part-derelict site transformed with a new urban community helping to support the town centre economy.”

Levitt Bernstein Associate, Gillian Harrison, said: “We are really excited to be working with Placefirst on such a key site in Bolton, creating high quality homes and outside spaces designed to foster a real sense of community.

“Although the site presents many challenges, we are turning these into an opportunity to create a scheme that is bespoke and tailored to its historic surroundings, making a significant contribution to the fabric of Bolton town centre.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted at the beginning of December. Placefirst aims to start work on site in 2021.

Bolton residents and other interested parties are invited to share their thoughts on the regeneration proposals ahead of the planning application submission.

Details are available via a consultation website at www.maddoxassociates.co.uk/bolton where comments can be submitted to Placefirst and its design team between now and the end of November.

Once a planning application is submitted, comments can be made to the local planning authority.

The development site area is 1.1 hectares and slopes downwards steeply from Deansgate to the River Croal.

It currently accommodates a mixture of uses, primarily surface car parking on previously cleared land and commercial premises many of which are vacant. The site boundary is: on the west Central Street; Ridgeway Gates and Brook Street to the east; the River Croal to the north; and Deansgate to the south.


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