THE multi-million pound regeneration of Farnworth town centre will go ahead, frustrated residents have been promised.
Two years after ambitious plans to build a new shopping parade at the town's market precinct were given the green light, developers have reaffirmed their commitment to transforming the area.
The lack of progress on the project has been a huge source of frustration for townspeople, who had initially been told that the two-storey facility would be completed by September last year.
Farnworth councillors Asif Ibrahim, Jean Gillies, and Noel Spencer held a meeting last week with bosses at St. Modwen — the firm behind the scheme — and say they are confident about the town's future, although there is still no fixed start date for the development.
Cllr Ibrahim said: “We want to reassure the residents of Farnworth that both Bolton Council and St. Modwen are totally committed to redeveloping Farnworth town centre.
"We had a positive face to face meeting with St. Modwen last week and together we continue to progress with the development behind the scenes.
“We understand residents’ frustrations because they have not yet seen any work commencing on the site.
“However, the successful redevelopment of the precinct is subject to a number of factors that are outside of the council and St. Modwen’s control, which we are working very hard to overcome.
“These involve things like the complex nature of the site we want to redevelop and the challenging economic climate.
“St. Modwen is working hard to secure businesses to the precinct and there is interest in the site."
The plans for the project, which were approved in February, 2015, include creating a shopping parade between Brackley Street and King Street, as well as improvement to the open space surrounding the precinct.
David Nuttall, development manager at St. Modwen, said: “Following our meeting with local councillors and council officers last week, we would like to reinforce our commitment to Farnworth town centre.”
The development of the shopping precinct is just one of the regeneration plans planned for Farnworth, which also include a proposed new bus station that is currently being developed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).
Cllr Ibrahim added: “We also understand that TfGM are looking to advance their plans for investment in the bus station.
“We are also having ongoing discussions with our health colleagues, and the clinical commissioning group remain committed to improving investment in health provision in Farnworth.
“As local councillors we remain committed to supporting regeneration in the area and after acting on local residents' concerns and talking to the developer, we are encouraged for the future.
“We would ask people to please be patient, while the complicated behind the scenes work continues to make sure this happens.”
Cllr Gillies added: “What we have been told is that it is 100 per cent going to go ahead, we just don’t have a start date yet.
“It was a very positive meeting and we hope that the delays do not go on for too much longer.”