Bolton Council hopes its £100 million masterplan will inspire £1 billion of development and investment. The planned regeneration will follow a recent flurry of successful investments in the area, including the award winning Market Place and the opening of a £50 million transport interchange.
In January 2019, the Council bought the existing Crompton Place for £14.8m. Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, described the purchase as an opportunity for transformational change.
She said: “The purchase of Crompton Place is fundamental to support the regeneration and transformation of our town centre.
“It is at the heart of our town’s civic and retail core and this deal means we now have control of a major strategic site that is critical to delivering the Town Centre Masterplan.
“We will now be focusing on ways to regenerate the area for the long term benefit of the town centre and our residents across the borough.
“We have carried out extensive due diligence checks before acquiring the centre and these have confirmed that the purchase price reflects current market conditions and represents fair market value.
“Bolton is following the example of many other local authorities across the country that have also invested in their local shopping centres to deliver regeneration schemes.
“There will be no changes in the day to day operation and running of the shopping centre in the immediate future, to ensure it continues to operate smoothly for tenants and shoppers.”
The Council will partner with Muse Developments to regenerate this underused site alongside the River Croal. Plans include 320 homes, including townhouses and apartments, a new hotel, commercial offices, and leisure/retail opportunities.
Residents and visitors to this distinctive new area will enjoy green, open space and make use of a new footbridge linking the site to Bank Street. A walkway through a new ‘river park’ will improve access to the river.
The new neighbourhood will boost the local economy with up to 290 jobs created when the site is completed and 130 jobs during construction. The Council will also benefit from an additional £450,000 of business rates each year.
David Burkinshaw, Muse Developments, said:
“Cities and towns across the North are being revitalised as more people choose to live in urban centres. This shift in the way people want to live is enabling new neighbourhoods to be created with a daytime and evening economy, where restaurants, bars, cafes and shops all thrive.
“The Church Wharf site is in an ideal location for new homes, within minutes walk of the centre of town. The setting alongside the River Croal and with impressive views of the two churches gives Muse the opportunity, working in partnership with Bolton Council, to create something really special that people can be proud of.
“The area has a rich industrial heritage and the development will be designed to balance the desire for modern, high quality architecture with its historic setting. We’re looking at retaining some of the existing buildings and other features.”
Councillor Ebrahim Adia, Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, added:
“Church Wharf is a key gateway into Bolton town centre and one of five sites in the Council’s billion-pound town centre masterplan. Creating a new neighbourhood at Church Wharf will help regenerate the town centre and breathe new life into the area. We’re supporting this vision with £100m direct investment to fund the key infrastructure needed to deliver important town centre sites including Church Wharf.
“We’re delighted to be working with Muse who have a great track record in regeneration. We’re excited by the plans that have been developed and would encourage local people to come along to the consultation events and have their say.”
A £45 million town centre development could see a 230 ft 20-storey high tower built alongside a new 500 space multi-storey car park and a 30,000 sq ft office block.
This would be the centrepiece of the Council’s masterplan. The 150 one and two-bedroom apartments would be aimed at young professionals, commuters and growing families that want to remain in the town centre.
The plans also include a new office scheme designed to appeal to existing organisations based in Bolton, as well as attracting new businesses to the area.
The multi-storey car park would be linked to the railway station’s footbridge making the scheme will be highly accessible and commuter-friendly.
A spokesperson for the consortium said: “This is a landmark mixed-use project of the highest quality and design, which will be the first in a series of transformational schemes for Bolton, reflecting the council’s ambitions to regenerate the town centre.
“The project will have local employment, training and apprenticeships at its core, as will all future developments delivered by the consortium.
“The project has attracted significant institutional funding, which will filter into further projects which we anticipate will also involve facilitating the expansion plans of the University of Bolton.”
Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Ebrahim Adia said: “Bolton is booming and attracting significant investor interest. This is a bold new vision of what could be the future for a key gateway into Bolton.
“The designs for the residential tower are striking and will change the landscape of Bolton town centre. It has been designed to offer something different, using brownfield land for housing, which is our priority.
“And the scale reflects demand due to population, wage growth, and the growing attraction of Bolton’s location in the city region.
“Creating a modern car park will cater for commuters using the interchange. It fits in with our vision of delivering a more integrated transport hub making it easier for residents to switch from one mode of transport to another.
“There is also demand for good quality office accommodation from businesses who have plans to move to Bolton and create jobs.
“The image will be a talking point, and these are early designs. The developers will also hold a full and thorough consultation on the final plans for the area, as part of the planning application process.
“Trinity Gateway shows that developers have confidence in Bolton and demonstrates the commitment that investors are prepared to make. It is a key site in the council’s billion-pound town centre masterplan and we are really pleased to be working with BRL on plans for the area.”
BRL expects to submit a planning application this Spring.
What do locals think of the plans?
Kelsey, 18 said: “I think it’s a good idea. More shops and places for people to live mean people will spend more money in Bolton. If they build more houses and apartments I’ll have more choice of where to live when I move out.”
Becky, 18 said: “Crompton Place does need to be made better. I’d be happy with a bigger Primark and other shops so I don’t have to go into Manchester to go shopping. I think the plans for Trinity Gateway look nice. Building apartments is better than building houses because you get more people in them.”
Damien, 28 said: “Building a fancy shopping centre or a large apartment block is not going to improve the town centre in anyway. I have lived in Bolton all my life and scrubbing it up won’t make a difference as people will still destroy the place. We need places to go that aren’t a shop or the pub. The cinema in the Marketplace is nice, but you can’t go every week. We used to have a water park, which was absolutely amazing and attracted visitors to Bolton. Something like that would boost the local economy more effectively.”
Harry, 21 said: “I think the money for the £150m neighbourhood at Church Wharf should be spent on more important matters such as getting the homeless off the streets and fed. The Council should be buying and doing things with all the abandoned buildings up and down Bradshaw Gate before spending more money on the shopping centre especially after the market place has just been done up.”