BUSINESSES had an update on developments across Bolton at the latest Professionals Curry Club hosted by KBL Solicitors.

Keith Davies, Bolton Council’s head of economic development and regeneration, talked about the town centre, the 80-hectare Cutacre industrial estate, which is earmarked for advanced manufacturing and logistics, and 1,600 new homes at the Horwich Loco site with a link road to Middlebrook.

He said the council’s five-year economic plan was launched just before the downturn but later revised. It originally projected £1 billion worth of investment over 15 years. Despite the recession, £250 million had been invested so far. An early projection to create 20,000 jobs up to 2014 was revised to between 5,000 and 7,000.

Mr Davies said:”Internet shopping means retailers are changing their whole business models. Tesco is looking at smaller shops and hubs for online customers to collect shopping. Town centres will not be like they were 30 years ago.

“However town centre lettings have gone up and redevelopments like St Andrew’s Court by Bolton-based entrepreneurs are welcome. The key to success is realistic rents.”

Looking ahead, he said Bolton Market would be a unique selling point for the town centre, offering different things to the Trafford Centre and Middlebrook.

Two cinema firms had shown interest in the Church Wharf leisure and restaurant development while a call centre firm had expressed interest in a site near the new transport interchange.

The Government was encouraging councils to use compulsory purchase orders to remove obstacles to regeneration and job creation, as was done in the Newport Street area for the transport hub.

Peter Donnelly, from RSM Tenon, welcomed guests while Dave Jones, who runs Progressive Business Mentoring and is a consultant for KBL, led a question-and-answer session.