£25m investment plan maps out future of Bolton town centre

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Bolton Council has submitted its plan for up to £25 million of funding from the government’s Towns Fund.

If successful, the town centre will see major improvements to much-loved existing locations such as Bolton Market, Central Library, and Aquarium. The projects also involve the creation of new green spaces and pocket parks, and a new innovation hub created for growing and start-up businesses in the Wellsprings.

Bolton is one of just 101 places which have been given the opportunity to secure funding from the government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund.

The fund aims to support regeneration, skills development and connectivity through green spaces by giving each place its own Town Deal.

Bolton’s investment plan is seeking funding for four projects:

  • A £5.19m improvement to Bolton Market, which would see the outdoor market refurbished, upgrades to the internal halls, and all the entrances to the building improved
  • A £6.33m redevelopment of Bolton Central Library, Museum and Archive, which would expand the Aquarium, modernise the libraries and introduce flexible workspaces for local businesses and groups
  • A £7.24m upgrade and refurbishment of the Wellsprings building to create an innovation hub for businesses in the creative and digital sector
  • A £6.25m public realm project which would create a greener town centre, seeing footpaths and connections between key institutions improved, and new pocket parks and public spaces created

Costs are indicative and could change as plans develop.

There are strict criteria on how money from the government’s Towns Fund can be spent. It can only be used on Bolton town centre regeneration projects, and not used to offset budget savings or spent on other services.

The council has already secured an additional £1m from the fund, which will be invested in improvements to the public realm on Ashburner Street and the surrounding area.

Chair of Bolton’s Town Deal Board and Director at Agitare Business Consultancy, Belinda Beaver, said: “A lot of hard work has got us to this point and I am really excited about these projects.

“Collaboration has been key to the decisions that have been made regarding appropriate investment of Towns Fund monies and the people of Bolton should be proud of these outcomes. They will make a difference to our town centre and set the stage for regeneration.

“2021 will see the town centre landscape change for the better and help secure Bolton’s recovery following the pandemic, providing upgraded facilities to businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

The plan reflects feedback from the local community, which has helped the Board to prioritise which projects to include.

Over July and August local residents, businesses and community groups had their say on what they wanted to see improved.

A total of 567 surveys were completed, and virtual workshops with 60 people and one-to-one interviews with 19 private, public and voluntary sector representatives took place.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “This is additional one-off ring-fenced money from government coming to Bolton, which could signify the start of our regeneration plans.

“These are really transformative projects that respond to the consultation, build on what residents like and want improved, and deliver changes that people across the borough want to see.

“The process has had a fantastic positive buy in from partners across both the Bolton’s private and public sector and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation.

“Their feedback has been incredibly helpful and has really helped us to decide what we needed to prioritise in our plan. The process has demonstrated the vision, commitment and ambition we all share for our town.

“People showed a great deal of support for the improvements we have included and are hopeful about what the Towns Fund could bring.

“We now need government to help us realise that vision and we look forward to progressing through the next stages.”

The projects all lie within the Cheadle Square ‘intervention area’ – one of the five key locations in Bolton’s £1bn town centre masterplan.

The next stage of the process will involve the council agreeing Heads of Terms with government and developing a full business case for the projects.

Cllr Greenhalgh added: “This is a huge opportunity for us which will transform the area, as we also ensure work continues on our masterplan.

“This project is in addition to the bids we also have in for both Farnworth and Bolton in the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

“The council has also allocated £16m to support the regeneration of Farnworth, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton town centres, in our commitment that the other towns within the borough will not be left behind.”

For more information about Bolton’s Town Fund bid visit www.investinbolton.com/Townsfund

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