Bolton Wanderers' £100 million 'Middlebrook Masterplan' to go before planning
CONTROVERSIAL plans by Bolton Wanderers to build a massive £100 million sport, education and office development next to the Reebok Stadium will be debated at a special meeting of the council's planning committee tomorrow.
Councillors will vote on the scheme - called the Middlebrook Masterplan by developers - which spans the Reebok, Bolton Arena and surrounding land.
The proposal includes plans for an upgraded and reconfigured arena, expanding the west stand of the Reebok, the construction of new sports facilities, a 60-bed hotel, up to 200 apartments and a wealth of office space, restaurants and hospitality suites.
Burnden Leisure, the company that owns the club, and Bolton Middlebrook Leisure Trust also want to build a new free school and sports academy in Burnden Way – thought to be the first school in England run by a football club outside the Premier League.
John McKenzie, associate director of Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, Wanderers’ agents for the application, said the school would be open to 16 to 18-year-olds and is an integral part of the complex.
He said: “The school will consolidate, formalise and expand the existing education offer and provide a sports orientated curriculum.
“The improved sports facilities, as well as enhancing the sports/leisure offer for local people, will also benefit Bolton Wanderers FC and in particular its academy.”
In a letter to the council Mark Caldwell, chief executive of Bluemantle, said the firm is "broadly supportive" of the sporting and educational aspects of the proposal, but they contested Wanderers’ bid for more offices.
He said: “The office element of the applicant’s proposals causes us to object as owners and developers of the Church Warf site.
“The applicant’s proposals are clearly in conflict with Bolton’s ‘town centre first’ policy and we continue to dispute the applicant’s argument that there were no suitable alternative sites in or near to the town centre.”
The town councils of Horwich, Blackrod and Westhoughton have all raised objections to the plans, saying it would impact badly on the highway network.
A separate scheme to replace the existing temporary buildings at the Wanderers’ Academy in Ox Hey Lane, Lostock, with a new pavilion building will also be discussed.
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