BOLTON’S £1 billion regeneration dream will still become reality, despite the economic uncertainty.
That is the view of Town Hall chiefs who say that a quarter of the cash — some £250 million — has already been spent.
The town has already seen projects completed such as the Market Place and the new Bolton College and Bolton Sixth Form College Campus, while the Bolton One health and research centre is under construction.
Other new developments completed include two new multi-storey car parks, which are part of a 25-year contract with parking company NCP and the renovation of St George’s Road.
And money has already been secured for the new £48 million bus interchange, which is due to start at the end of next year, while the first private development since the recession, a hotel in the Merchant’s Quarter, is now under way and expected to be completed by October.
Despite unprecedented cuts to Bolton Council’s budget and the reluctance of the private sector to invest in “speculative” developments such as residential or offices, the only change to a strategy put in place in 2007 is a reduction in the number of jobs expected to be created over the next 10 years — from 15,000 to between 5,000 and 7,000.
Keith Davies, the council’s director of development and regeneration, said: “We have to be realistic and that is what the new strategy is about.
“We set out in 2007 the vision for £1 billion of investment in Bolton and that is still the priority.
It will be done over a longer period of time and we have to focus on the priorities and what is achievable in the short to medium term.
“It is easy for people to be cynical of plans on paper and of flashy CGI impressions, but we have already seen work taking place across the borough and that gives us a lot of confidence and hopefully gives people in Bolton the reassurance that the strategy we have in place is the correct one.”
The new strategy identifies a number of priorities for the council and its partners, including developing key employment sites in the town centre, Loco Works and Cutacre; supporting existing and new businesses; developing skills and supporting people into employment. Developing skills among residents is another key priority.
Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said: “While our long-term ambitions for growth are still valid, this new strategy will focus on a number of key priorities.”
Chris Fletcher, deputy chief executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Much of what is proposed within Bolton’s plan has been identified by Chamber members as being crucial to get the economy back on track.”