AN ambitious scheme to transform a rundown part of Bolton town centre looks set to finally be started — 10 years after it was first approved.

Bark Street Investments was given outline permission to build a part-seven, part-10 storey building at land at the junction of Bark Street and St Helena Road in 2003.

And now councillors have approved the plans for 16 three-bedroom apartments, a food store, warehouse, offices and cafes at the site.

The application — quipped by chief planning officer Tim Hill as having been hanging around ‘like a bad smell’ — was held up after a food retailer pulled out of the project, it is understood.

Backing the plans, deputy leader of Bolton Council Linda Thomas said the site had had a “chequered history”.

She added: “I personally think this is going to be the best thing we will get out of the land.

“I think we need to agree with this — it is a particular part of town that is an eyesore.”

Cllr Nick Peel added: “We can’t underestimate the importance of this scheme.”

Also included in the scheme are plans for 490 parking spaces, a riverside footpath and cycle parking.

Cllr John Walsh received an assurance from the developers that an important part of Bolton’s heritage — namely, grooves in the road that show where industrialists would turn their cartwheels in the road — would be protected and incorporated into the scheme.