SOME of Bolton’s oldest and most historic buildings will be knocked down to make way for a town centre regeneration project – leaving some businesses homeless.

Plans for the Croal Valley and Central Street form part of Bolton Council’s £1bn blueprint to transform the heart of the town over the next 12 years.

Bosses want to improve the environment by “opening up” the Croal and building houses and flats overlooking the improved river frontage.

But the ambitious plans would include the demolition of a block of buildings in Deansgate, some of which date back to the 18th century.

These include the former Blue Boar — one of the few surviving pubs from the Bolton licensing list of 1779 - and the old Sweetens book shop, which had once been the Kings Arms, a popular pub from the 1700s until its closure in 1962.

Town hall chiefs say they are helping businesses whose premises are set for clearance to find new homes, and keeping others likely to be affected by the work informed of any developments.

Most of the premises earmarked for demolition have been vacated. But the management of The Buttery sandwich shop are searching for a new home.

A spokesman for the outlet, who asked not to be named, criticised the council for a lack of help and information.

She said: “They will not relocate us. We have got to sort ourselves out, it’s not good.

“Our landlord is selling the building to the council, but the council has not been able to help us at all, and we have not found anywhere else to go.

“We want to stay in the town centre. We’ve been here 10 years and never thought we would be in this position.”

The other business directly affected is a Greenhalgh's outlet. No one from the bakery chain was willing to comment about the plans.

While they are not facing the demolition of their premises, Deansgate businesses on the other side of the junction with Central Street, are anxious about the impact of the regeneration work.

Adam Hutchinson, director of Whittakers Schoolwear, said: “I feel the council hasn’t given any thought to how it will affect our local businesses.

“We’re one of the only independent retail shops that bring customers into the town centre. We're a destination shop serving over 50 schools in the area and we draw people into town, whereas not many other people do and we are going to be cut off from.

“This has always been a good street for foot traffic, which it won’t be any more. My biggest concern is whether it will cause any disruption to the stretch of road between McDonald’s and here and will it be easily accessible by pedestrians.”

And Diane Pepper, owner of Whittaker’s Shoemakers, had similar concerns.

She said: “It’s not good for us. We’ll be completely isolated from the town centre. We’ve lost the bus station and the post office is going in August. It’s not good for us at this end of town.

“We’re just hoping it’s not going to happen when our busy period comes up, because people are not going to walk through a building site to get to us. It’s a big worry.”

A council spokesman said: “The redevelopment of the Central Street/River Croal area has been a long-held aspiration of the council.

“It is one of the five key intervention sites in our masterplan and a comprehensive plan is being put together for the area.

“We are supporting The Buttery and other affected businesses to find alternative locations.

“We will continue to work with businesses and stakeholders to ensure they are kept informed of developments and consulted when plans are finalised.”