The people of Farnworth have received a “fantastic” Christmas ‘gift’ after it was announced today (Dec 26) that the town has been awarded £13.3m to help transform its high street.
Bolton Council’s bid for Farnworth to the government’s Future High Streets Fund was one of only 50 in the country to get through to the final stage.
Bolton Council leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “This will be a game changer for Farnworth. This substantial investment will be the beginning of the town realising its ambition and potential.”
The news comes just a few weeks after social impact developer Capital & Centric – stars of BBC2 documentary Manctopia – unveiled its £50m vision to redevelop the former market precinct in Farnworth town centre.
The £1bn High Streets fund was set up by the government to make high streets and town centres fit for the future.
Whilst Bolton Council did not receive the full £19.2m that it hoped for Farnworth, council chiefs have welcomed the multi-million award. The council will be working with the government and steering group to finalise the proposals.
Cllr Greenhalgh said he was “delighted” for Farnworth.
He said: “We fought hard to sell this scheme. I’ve shown ministers round and spoken about Farnworth town centre in the highest places within government and I am delighted with the result.
“Of course, we would have liked to have received the full sum, but I think given the current position of the country’s finances, this amount is still significant.
“It demonstrates, despite the huge pressures at the moment, the government’s commitment to the ‘levelling up’ of the North.
“It was important that the Farnworth masterplan was led and determined by local people, and I want to pay tribute to the Chairman of the Steering Group, Cllr Paul Sanders, who has led from the front believing in the vision for his town.”
Bolton Council adopted a masterplan for the area in July 2019 following a consultation with residents.
The document sets out objectives for the town centre including a new community and civic hub in the heart of Farnworth, improved public realm and redeveloping the market precinct.
Chair of the Farnworth steering group, Cllr Paul Sanders, said: “This is a historic day for Farnworth and amazing news for our residents.
“I want to thank my fellow Farnworthians and Kearsleyites for keeping the faith.
“Typically, awards from the fund are between £10 and £15 million, and I am pleased that our award is at the higher end of that range.
“This is a massive achievement and this money will really help us in making our ambitions a reality.
“Things are on the up and together with Capital & Centric’s ambitious plans, 2021 will be Farnworth’s year.”
Bolton Council’s deal with Capital & Centric will aim to transform the site into a vibrant community with 200 modern new homes, centred around a new public square for artisan markets, live events and more.
Consultation is set to start in the new year on the Capital & Centric plans.
Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Martyn Cox, added: “This funding is fantastic news for Farnworth.
“We are waiting for the full details of the grant from the government and we will work with the steering group to use the funding to deliver key projects from the masterplan.
“As a council we are committed to supporting town centres across the borough and £16m has already been allocated to support the regeneration of Farnworth, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton town centres.”