BOLTON'S town centre masterplan took a giant leap forward with last week’s announcement of £250m private investment in Crompton Place. But as Nick Statham reports, there is much more to come.

THE news that a quarter of a billion pounds worth of building cash is on its way to Bolton town centre has been hailed as a massive coup for the town.

But the transformation of Bolton by a private sector consortium including China’s second-biggest construction firm won't stop there.


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It has been revealed that the investors and builders behind the new cash and plans for Crompton Place shopping centre are likely to be major players in re-shaping the rest of the town centre.

They have been offered the chance to work the vast regeneration masterplan for Bolton town centre which was unveiled in September last year, councillors were told last week.

There are four masterplan “intervention zones” and Bolton Regeneration Limited (BRL), led by development specialist Midia and including the giant Beijing Construction and Engineering Group International (BCEGI), has been offered the opportunity of developing three of them.

They are Croal Valley, Cheadle Square and Trinity Quarter. The fourth, Church Wharf, will be developed by


The consortium's potential role in the regeneration work is part of the deal to transform Crompton Place, it was revealed by Bolton Council's director of place Gerry Brough at the corporate resources and external issues scrutiny committee.

As part of a presentation on the council’s vision developing vision for the town centre masterplan, Philip Green, assistant director of place, said Midia was “clearly very interested in” the Cheadle Square, which includes the former Moor Lane Bus station, described as a “chunk of council owned land that could be brought to the market very easily”.

Cllr Martin Cox said it was the first time the council had joined with a partner with “very deep pockets” to fund its plans, while Cllr Roger Hayes added: “Exciting is the very word for it, it’s potentially going to make a massive difference to the whole borough.”

Mr Brough explained how the deal came about. He said the council had been in talks with Midia last December, but proposals would have meant handing over the shopping centre almost immediately and unhappy council chiefs pulled out.

He said: “The Department for International Trade got in touch to see if we would be prepared to put the town centre forward for a potential project for foreign investors.

“We said we were, we gave them some information, they went away and spoke to some investors and came back with two Chinese ones interested in supporting our plans.

“We were told that the minimum investment they would consider would be £0.5bn pounds and clearly Crompton Place was not going to be an investment on that scale.”

So, to secure the investment council chiefs created two investment packages “one for Crompton Place and one for the rest of the town centre site not already allocated to investors”.

The Bolton News understands that, as well as Cheadle Square, Croal Valley and Trinity Quarter masterplan sites, this could also include other areas around the town centre owned by the council.

Mr Brough said it was expected that a planning application for the Central Street area of the Croal Valley site would be brought forward by “the end of year”.


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