CONCERNED residents heard members of Bolton Civic Trust outline their vision to transform the town centre and “get Bolton out of a hole.”

Earlier this week, The Bolton News published the trust’s ideas for the development of the Moor Lane and Cheadle Square area of the town centre — in response to initial proposals from the council for an academic village scheme.

About forty people attended a public meeting held by the trust at Bolton Central Library to hear those plans in more detail as well as a rallying cry for the people of Bolton to get their voices heard on the future direction of the town.

Trust chairman Richard Shirres stressed the importance of the site, stating: “We need the very best development in this area — it cannot be sub-standard and if it is done right it could help get Bolton out of the hole it is in.

“This is about the future of Bolton, the town is pretty close to being on its knees and we need the right development and the right investment to turn it around.”

Trust member Mark Head explained the detail behind the proposals, which focus on the need for green space in the area as well as green and low-carbon infrastructure and public activity spaces in Cheadle Square.

He said: “This is not a fanciful idea, we can achieve all of these things and if we build like this people will want to come and live, work and invest in Bolton.

“This could be a national important and recognised project — it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for an enduring landmark legacy.”

The vision received a loud round of applause, with one audience member stating: “This plan has the boldness of vision that one would have hoped out council could have come up with which has no awareness or sensitivity to what we have in our civic centre.

He added: “I think perhaps we should all start paying our rates to the civic trust.”

Trust members ended the meeting by encouraging members of the public to let their voices be heard and contact the council to let them know how they feel about the development of the key town centre site.

Mr Shirres said he had invited all elected councillors to the meeting but Horwich North East Cllr Richard Silvester was the only one to attend.

Cllr Silvester said he liked what he saw, adding: "The Civic Trust have thought very carefully about this and have taken the time to present some ambitious designs and I hope that some of their ideas can be incorporated into the final plans.

"I would encourage them to keep talking both to the Council and the University as I believe they should certainly be involved as a valued partner."