A MULTI-MILLION pound plan to open restaurants in the historic vaults of the Market Place is set to be completed before Easter.

But work on the new nine-screen cinema has been delayed by the bad weather after high winds put the huge crane out of action.

The crane, which has dominated the town centre skyline for the past eight months as part of work on the cinema project, will begin to be dismantled later this month.

It had been hoped that the new cinema would be completed and ready to open on March 18 — when the centre’s new restaurant vaults complex opens its doors to the public.

But bad weather in the borough has meant that the crane has not been able to operate on all the planned days.

This means that the 30,000 sq ft cinema is not expected to be completed and ready to welcome film fans until late May.

It is better news for food fanatics, however, with plans to open up the historic Victoria vaults beneath the Market Place — part of the overall £19 million redevelopment — on course to be completed in March.

Chicken giant Nando’s and popular Italian chain Prezzo have already confirmed that they will be moving into the vaults and Market Place bosses have confirmed that another major name has signed up with others showing serious interest.

Market Place manager Nikki Wilson-Cooke said: “With the cinema project we always have to put safety first.

“Because of the sheer size of the crane at the site, it is not allowed to operate in winds stronger than 12 miles per hour, so because of the typical English weather we have had the work has been delayed a bit.

“So it looks like it will be more towards the end of May — but everything within the vaults is still on track for our March 18 target.”

Speaking about the excitement surrounding the vaults project, she added: “We were delighted to announce Nando’s and Prezzo and another major name has also signed on, which we are just going over the final details of — there is also another very well-known restaurant chain coming to look at the site.

“Everyone is very excited about the project and we can’t wait to get going — I am looking forward to trying out the different restaurants we will have at the Market Place.”

The 45 metre crane will start to come down later this month and work to dismantle it will start on January 18.

Bolton Council will make an order for this to take place over a period of seven days from that date.

During this time, an area of Bridge Street — from its junctions with Deansgate to Bow Street — and a section of Deansgate— from its junctions with Bradshawgate to Crown Street — will be closed to the public.

The crane, which is the largest luffing crane to be used in the UK, arrived in Bolton from Poland last May.