BOLTON’S new £48 million transport interchange has moved a step closer to becoming a reality after town hall chiefs were given power to buy the land needed to build it.
Following a two-day public inquiry in the summer, the government has granted a compulsory purchase order (CPO) enabling the council to force landowners and tenants to sell-up.
Council bosses are still in negotiation with some of the businesses on the site and say they will only use the CPO as a last resort.
A section of land around Newport Street would be demolished and redeveloped if the plans go ahead, to make way for a futuristic-looking new integrated bus and train interchange.
A new artist's impression picture has been released showing the glass-panelled interior of the hub would look.
Full planning permission has already been granted for the transport hub, which is due to open by spring, 2015.
It will include a high level pedestrian bridge between the train and bus station, as well as eco-friendly power-saving schemes and a cycle station.
Some of its “green” features include rainwater recycling, solar panels, air source heat pumps and low energy LED lighting.
The cycle station will include showers, changing cubicles and secure parking for bikes to encourage people to ride into the town centre.
The council says the project will provide better bus and rail links services, as well as improved waiting areas, passenger facilities, accessibility, information, and safety and security.
Leader of Bolton Council , Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “Having the approval means that we can compulsorily purchase the land but we would only use the CPO as a last resort.
“We will still strive to complete negotiations without using it whilst continuing to support and assist the affected businesses where possible to relocate elsewhere within the town centre.”
Keith Davies, the council’s head of development and regeneration, said: “This scheme is a key part of our revised economic strategy.
“It is at the heart of our town centre regeneration plans. A 21st century transport hub will help attract inward investment and secure the type of town centre properties that can provide economic growth.”
Businessman Tasos Patichis, owner of the Olympus restaurant in nearby Great Moor Street, welcomed the news.
He said: “We’re competing with places like Bury and the Trafford Centre, which all have good infrastructure.
“Visitors’ first impressions really matter and the Newport Street area has deteriorated quite a lot.”
Brian Tetlow, chairman of Bolton Civic Trust, said the plans were wasteful and counter-productive, however.
He said: “A lot of people have made representations about this. This is a big idea which ignores the interests of other people in the area.
“The cost is counterproductive, it’s not going to be a convenience to the travelling public as claimed and it will upset the balance of the town centre.
“Nearby buildings shouldn’t need to be demolished because the new transport interchange represents an investment.”
Transport for Greater Manchester is working with the council on the project to ensure the town centre can be easily accessed by bus.
A strategy will also be developed to signpost pedestrian routes to areas of the interchange and the town centre, including the market.