AN £8 MILLION project to create a futuristic new base for Asons Solicitors has been put on hold — and the firm admits it is now "less likely" to create 300 new jobs.

The Bolton based law firm announced ambitious plans to create its new headquarters on the site of the former Bolton College building in Clarence Street in 2013, with 300 jobs being created as a result.

But now the company says it has to scale back the plans, blaming the changes made to personal injury claims by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement.

In addition, Asons, which employs 280 people, will either have to make redundancies of three per cent of the workforce or redeploy staff.

Work had started on the building, which was due to be finished in mid-to-late 2016, but now the plans have been postponed until further notice.

Companies who had been set to work on the new site told The Bolton News how they have had orders cancelled.

Ian Woolrich, managing director of Warrington based Cruden Construction, which had won the building contract, said: "It is a huge shock to us. It is a huge shock to the local supply chain and some of the local opportunities that we had provided to Bolton people.

"We had a £5 million contract which was terminated as of Friday evening, so obviously I have got to try and replace that work."

The Government has pledged to remove personal injury claims of up to £5,000 to the small claims court, in comparison to the current figure of £1,000, and abolish claims for 'minor' whiplash.

Asons claims these changes will affect the public's right to justice and that they will adversely impact law firms which rely on this work.

Bosses say the firm, currently based in Bark Street, is taking a "proactive and positive approach" and is working to safeguard the jobs of its current staff.

Dr Imran Akram, chief executive officer of Asons, said: "It’s in the best commercial interests of Asons for the business to put its employees first and ensure that we have an efficient business model that protects the firm.

“We know that the postponement of the new offices is unfortunate for the Bolton economy, judging by all of the interest we’ve had from jobseekers and especially the next round of University of Bolton graduates.

"Obviously, it’s now less likely that we will be able to create the 300 new jobs that we anticipated next year.

“We want to create an anchor building that helps to secure Bolton’s economic future, but we have to do it when the time is right. Protecting the employee numbers that we currently have has to be our current priority.”

The budget for the new building was £8 million, with Asons set to privately invest £6m with another £2m provided by bank funding.

Instead it has decided to reinvest the £6 million into the business’s existing infrastructure.

Keith Davies, director of development and regeneration at Bolton Council, who has been involved with the project, said: "We are working with Asons and waiting for them to complete their business plan after the impact of the spending review.

"We will see how the situation develops and continue to work with them in future."

As well as office space, the luxury development was set to include a top-end restaurant, space for business networking and corporate events and a rooftop garden.

At its official unveiling, Asons said they hoped the new building would have the same “wow factor” as New York’s Times Square.

Bulldozers moved in to demolish the former Bolton Community College on the site in 2011, with its new campus opening in Deane Road the previous year.