PLANS to transform a town centre car park have taken a major step forward as the site officially opens to the public for the first time.

Bank Park, a carparking firm with a charity twist, joins youth swimming company Splish Splash Time as the first companies to begin operations on the site of former Bow Street Car Park.

Parking on the site becomes available on Saturday, but the pool firm will have its full opening on Monday, when consumers will be able to take their children for a swim.

It comes as part of efforts to redevelop the entire car park structure into a hub for retail, with the site renamed Mill Yard.

Marcel Sas, operations manager at Bank Park, spoke of his excitement for the project, which represents the firm’s first location in Bolton.

The company operates the same way as a traditional carparking business, but in each location that it opens part of the profits are donated to a charity. In this case, Bank Park will be giving money to children’s hospice Derian House.

“It’s a different place that we can add to our list,” Mr Sas said. “We would to have somewhere in every town and city because we can add more charities to our business and we can help more people.

“We really believe in this, that people can park and help at the same time. It’s something different and it’s nice to be able to help.”

He added: “The whole idea behind Bank Park came from our managing director, before he started this company he tried to come up with a way of running the business while at the same time helping people.

“It’s enough to go down to one of these children’s charities and it gives us all a huge push to keep doing it.”

Around 2.5 percent of the money made from each parking charge at Mill Yard will be donated to Derian House, which helps support children who are suffering from terminal conditions, and their families.

With parking now available at the location, families will be able to take their children to Splish Splash Time, where staff will work alongside national firm Water Babies to teach youngsters from birth up to 11 years old.

A spokesman for the new venue said that helping children progress from a very young age will mean they learn more quickly.

They explained: “Our plan is that we can teach children from birth and they will progress a lot quicker, so we then want to take these children forward and teach them according to their ability, rather than their age.

“We will work with the children individually, with small groups, and a dedicated teacher, who will help them to learn as they grow up.

“We have also got an activities room in the building where we will be working with businesses to do different kinds of activities, along with the parents of children who come to Water Babies.”

The Bow Street carpark was closed by Bolton Council in 2014 but structural work has been ongoing at the site since 2016 as efforts are made to reopen the building.