Major strides forward have been achieved in Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton to prioritise projects to receive a share of £16m town centre regeneration funding.
At the end of January, members of the Town Centre steering groups in each area met to endorse the priority projects that will see the first steps taken towards delivering regeneration masterplans for each area.
Approval is being sought to further develop projects and to firm up costs for implementation alongside the delivery of some ‘quick win’ projects.
The improvements are part of Bolton Council’s package of support to kick start town centre regeneration in Farnworth, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton town centres.
Each district has carried out local consultation, developed a dedicated district centre strategy and masterplan which identified challenges and opportunities for their area and several key development proposals that will guide the long term regeneration of the district centres.
A two phased approach will be taken to implement the priority projects in each area. Phase one will be focused on implementing ‘quick win’ projects, completing further physical surveys and design work, and undertaking further public consultation. Phase two will concentrate on the implementation of the longer term projects.
Priority projects for Little Lever include: improvements to major Town Centre gateways; signage; creating an improved pedestrian route through Memorial Gardens to Tesco; public realm works to the square on the Mytham Park precinct; prevention of rat runs; and a shop front improvement scheme.
In addition, £1.255M of the available regeneration funding will contribute to the new £4.5m Little Lever Health Centre and Library which is currently under construction and due to open in December 2021.
Horwich’s priority projects focus on: improvement works to Lee Lane and Winter Hey Lane; Improvements to Old Station park including pedestrian and cycle links; public realm improvement works on and around Hampson Street; a Car Parking strategy to assess future parking requirements and public realm improvement schemes in Blackrod.
Westhoughton’s priority projects include: improving pedestrian links to the Town Centre; a car parking strategy; an assessment of future requirements for remodelling Market Street; improvement works to Central Park; securing the future use of the Civic buildings; and bringing forward proposals for key development sites in the town centre.
£4m of the regeneration monies will be used to co-fund the recently awarded £13.3m Future High Street Funding received from Central Government. This will deliver several priority projects in Farnworth, including the redevelopment of the market precinct – potentially creating a new square, 200 homes and new leisure facilities. Consultation on these proposals is currently underway.
Little Lever Chair, Councillor Sean Hornby said: “Exciting times are ahead for Little Lever. Despite difficult restrictions due to the pandemic we are delivering more parts of the jigsaw for our village centre. This includes the new health centre and library, new Gateways, improvements to the area and the start of the new Lever Gardens residential scheme that will provide 60 apartments for local residents and bungalows for the elderly.
“The introduction of proper traffic calming measures through the racecourse estate and Radcliffe Rd, as well as a refurbished bowling facilities and improvements to Mytham Park will make this the biggest investment into Little Lever in over 30 years.
“The second phase, once the pandemic is over and proper consultation can take place, will see improvements to the shop fronts making Little Lever an even better place to live in and visit.”
Westhoughton Chair, Councillor David Wilkinson said: “We’re hopeful that the additional money for Westhoughton will allow us to make physical improvements and to make the town centre and Central Park a more attractive place for residents to visit. It will be an opportunity to encourage businesses to also invest in our thriving town centre.
“There will be future opportunities for residents to be involved in the consultations for the physical layout of Market Street, the use of the civic buildings such as the town hall, the library and the Carnegie Hall and Central Park. Residents’ views will help to frame all of these long-term strategies so I would encourage people to take part.”
Horwich Chair, Councillor Marie Brady said: “The purpose and focus of Horwich Town Centre Regeneration is to create an environment that allows our existing and future businesses, entrepreneurs, unique shops, cafes and restaurants to thrive and prosper.
“New residents, younger generations and internet shopping are changing the high street. Successful town centres are those that meet the needs and expectations of the community, recognise when changes are needed and adapt to meet them.
“The investment in Horwich will help to create a safe and visually attractive public realm for window shopping, browsing and socialising that encourages residents and visitors to Horwich and Blackrod, with sufficient parking and with safe, direct links and improved access for those who choose active travel.
“Priorities for Horwich and Blackrod, were identified by public consultation, and are being taken forward using evidence from other successful town centres, feasibility studies and detailed assessments.
Leader of the council, Councillor David Greenhalgh said: “It is fantastic to see the key development priorities in Little Lever, Westhoughton and Horwich being approved with the councils £16m committed funding. These boards are chaired and run by locally elected councillors with participation from local businesses and residents who have worked together to determine achievable and deliverable development proposals for the best of their town.”
“The work done in these district centres align with the Bolton Vision 2030 of creating a vibrant place, built on strong cohesive communities, successful business and healthy residents.”
Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Martyn Cox said: “Our ambitious plans are for the benefit of the whole of Bolton and we want to see district towns prosper which is why we committed this £16m funding. Each district has shown their commitment to developing a priority list following consultation and creating a masterplan detailing their strategies and plans to meet challenges within their area. By working together we will make all areas of Bolton vibrant and vital”.
The next step is to seek Cabinet Member approval of phase one key budget to deliver development priorities in March 2021 for the three district centres. Following this, final costings as part of phase two will then be taken back to Cabinet Member for approval, in Autumn 2021. These will then be monitored and reviewed annually by the Director of Place and Assistant Director of Economic Development and Regeneration alongside members of the four District Centre Steering Groups.