BUILDING work to transform Bolton Market Place is steaming ahead.

Main contractor, Wates Construction, has now moved on to site to start the much-anticipated trans-formation of the shopping centre.

The move follows Wates’ appointment to the project by Inception Holdings SARL last month.

Work will see the underground Victorian vaults transformed to create new restaurant, bar and retail spaces.

Designed by Wren Architects, the scheme will include a 30,000 sq ft nine-screen cinema complex.

Building work will also include renovations to the existing malls and the installation of additional escalators and lifts.

The shopping centre will remain fully open for business during the construction period.

Centre manager Nikki Wilson-Cook said: “In just six months since Moorgarth bought the asset, and through much hard work, determination and co-operation with all our tenants, I am thrilled to see work start on site this week.

“This beautiful historic market hall will be transformed within the next 12 months into a place for families, shoppers and visitors to Bolton to enjoy — a stylish retail, restaurant and leisure destination like no other in the North West.”

Philip Dove of The Light Cinemas, the cinema operator, added: “This is one of the most exciting cinema projects we are currently involved in, not only in the UK but in Europe. This will truly be a different cinema experience and will give Bolton something to boast about.”

Tony Shenton, business unit director, Wates Construction North West, said: “It is an exciting time as the ambitious plans to enhance Bolton Market Place begin to materialise and we have an excellent site team in place poised to ensure that we fulfil our client’s vision to create a vibrant leisure destination for the people of Bolton.

“Bolton Market Place will be kept fully operational and our continual engagement with the public and our neighbours will be at the heart of maintaining high standards in health and safety throughout our building works.”