BOLTON Wanderers have unveiled ambitious plans to build a massive £100 million sport, education and office development next to the Reebok Stadium.
The proposals, codenamed the ‘Middlebrook masterplan’, span the Reebok, Bolton Arena and surrounding land.
They are a joint enterprise between Burnden Leisure, the company that owns Wanderers, and Bolton Arena Trust, which runs the arena.
The scheme includes plans for a free school run by Wanderers, which, it is thought, would be the first school in England run by a football club outside the Premier League.
The plans are described by the developers as “a major regional sports and education centre”, and also feature seven-storey office buildings, new football pitches and expansion of the stadium’s west stand.
The plans include:
- An upgraded and reconfigured arena building for full-time sports academy use, with accommodation for up to 500 students.
- The construction of a new 105 metre sports building linked to Bolton Arena, which would house sports halls, tennis courts, changing facilities, administration, indoor football pitch and viewing lounge.
- Upgrades to sports facilities at Bolton Arena, including improvements to the running track, an artificial match pitch, and new floodlit five-a-side pitches.
- A new five-storey, 5,000sq m education building to the south of Burnden Way, which could house a free school and sports academy.
- Restructuring and expansion of the Reebok Stadium’s west stand to provide up to 3,000 sq m of accommodation, with new hospitality areas and administration facilities.
- Up to 29,000 sq m of commercial and office accommodation in a “grand arc” of seven-storey buildings on land next to the Reebok’s north stand.
Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside said: "In 1996 the club's then board had the vision to build the Reebok Stadium with its integrated hotel, conference and office facilities.
"Now we are adding to that vision with the exciting proposals that we have outlined.”
A seperate scheme is also being developed that includes upgraded facilities, including a new pavilion at the Bolton Wanderers academy site in Ox Hey Lane, Lostock.
The masterplan proposals are still in their early stages, but a formal planning application is expected to be submitted soon.
Bolton Arena is owned by Bolton Council, but is run by the not-for-profit community organisation, the Bolton Arena Trust.
Arena managing director Paul Bartle said: “The long term increases in our usage over the years have placed increasing demands on our facilities.
“It has for some time been our strategy to look for opportunities to further enhance those facilities and offer Bolton and the North West world-class facilities, programmes and events that inspire people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to follow a lifelong passion for sport and healthy activities.
“This scheme expands and upgrades the existing facilities at Bolton Arena, and proposes a regional sports hub for both elite and community sports users, combined with modern, sports-led education provision.”
Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris said he welcomed anything that brought new investment to Bolton, but would judge the plans on their merits when he had seen them.
The plans will be presented to the public at an exhibition at Bolton Arena’s reception area on Thursday, November 15 from 2-7pm, where visitors will also have the chance to quiz the design team.
Bolton West MP Julie Hilling said: “The proposed development seems to be an exciting new venture for Horwich.
“We already have impressive sports facilities at the Reebok Stadium and Bolton Arena — it would be wonderful to attract more to our area.
“However there is a lot of information to take on board so it is important that residents look at the plans.”
Cllr Lindsey Kell — who represents Horwich and Blackrod and sits on the council’s planning committee — said: “I would urge local residents to go to the open day next Thursday and find out more about the planned development.
“As a local councillor, I’m eager to hear the views of residents in relation to this proposal.”
Her views were echoed by Cllr Ann Cunliffe, who also represents Horwich and Blackrod.
She said: “Clearly I am enthusiastic about plans which attract jobs and new facilities, however I need to look closely at the proposed site and how it would impact on the local area.”