AMBITIOUS plans to transform a disused town centre car park into a unique new shopping centre have been revealed.

It is proposed that Bow Street Car Park will be used to house up to 60 retail units to be let to various independent and artisan businesses — who will sell everything from exotic street food to individual gifts and fashion items in a similar style to the iconic Afflecks Palace in Manchester.

It is hoped that the top floors of the building will be turned into a new apartment-hotel complex — with plans to create more than 60 studio apartments.

One floor of the building will be used for leisure activities with preliminary ideas including a children’s play area as well as potential paint-ball or laser tag facilities.

The development could be partly powered by a planned solar farm which may be built on the roof of the centre and there will also be free parking for 180 cars.

The masterminds behind the plans are well-known Bolton business owners Geeta and Subhash Kotecha — who run the Spice Valley Indian restaurants in Horwich and at Noble House.

They are joined in the latest venture by business partner Farhad Azimy, who owns and develops properties in the Bolton area.

The three have already worked together on one success story — after transforming the former Riley’s snooker hall in Blackburn Road into an expansive new business space which now houses the Global Interiors furniture store, the Dolce Italian restaurant and World of Brass.

The plan is to replicate what has been achieved at Global Interiors on a much larger scale at the new centre — which will be called The Link.

Mr Kotecha said: “We have been working on these plans for about six months. We hope that our idea will fit in somewhere between the Market Place project and Bolton Market and will focus on independent businesses and artisan shops — we would like it to be the link between the two.

“We know from Spice Valley that if the product and the service is right then people will come and we want to get Bolton buzzing again.”

Mrs Kotecha added: “Bolton has historically always been a community town and we want to continue that, providing opportunities for local businesses to operate.

“We have good local knowledge from our work with Spice Valley which we hope we can share with the traders.

She added: “We want more people to come to Bolton like they used to do — we want people to have an experience here.”

The developers have been working with Bolton Council on the plans and it is hoped that the shopping centre aspect, which could be known as the ‘Bolton Emporium’, could be opened before the end of the year.

The overall project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Prior to that, the car park building — which was closed by the council in 2014 because of safety fears — will require structural work to stabilise it.

The exterior of the building will then be cladded and glazed to create a modern new look.

Work will then begin to create an internal “street scene” in the ground floor — where it is hoped a range of boutiques and artisan shops as well as cafes and international food stalls will set up shop.

A number of prospective tenants are said to have already expressed firm interest in taking up units and the developers are offering a range of packages to help them manage and develop their businesses at the new venue.

The developers also want to encourage young entrepreneurs to get involved in the project and will plan to run an annual competition to find the brightest business minds who will be rewarded with a free unit to trade from for an entire year.

Property developer Mr Azimy has lived in Bolton since he was 18 and said for a long-time he has wanted to do something to help revitalise the town centre.

He said: “I own a few shops in the town centre, but I can’t change anything with one or two units — we need an army of new shops.

“I am sick and tired of the negativity people have towards Bolton and we want to do something about it — we believe The Link could be a gem in the town centre.

He added: “There are 280 thousand people in Bolton, where are they? We want Bolton Town Centre to have everything needed to attract people in.

“This project, alongside the Market Place and other development projects could give us a fighting chance.”

The development team have praised Bolton Council for backing their idea, in particular the authority’s departing director of development and regeneration, Keith Davies, who said The Link plans are a big boost for the town.

He added: “The idea of having this range of independent businesses in the town centre really appeals to us.

“It is really important for us that people sign up to our vision for the town centre regeneration and projects like this give it a real boost.”

A full planning application is expected to be produced for The Link in the coming weeks.

If permission is approved, building work will begin immediately.

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