YMCA have submitted plans to demolish and rebuild their premises on Deansgate in a £7 million project. JOSEPH TIMAN reports.

The proposed development will incorporate activities of the youth charity, street-level retailers and residential dwellings.

A total of 20 one-bedroom apartments is included in the proposal as well as three bedsits or studios.

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The Bolton News:

Bolton YMCA said that the proposed accommodation will be used to generate rental income for the organisation together with retailers on the ground floor of the building.

The building currently offers youth services and community projects provided by YMCA as well as five retail units.

There will be an additional 2,728 square metres of new floorspace provided as part of the proposed development, mostly allocated to the new dwellings but also for assembly and leisure.

CEO of Bolton YMCA, Mr Cronin said that the three-storey building, which was built after the first world war, needs to be knocked down and rebuilt to provide additional facilities that are relevant to the town centre today.

He said: “It will impact on people’s lives positively. The YMCA are impacting body, mind and spirit to develop young people in these aspects to make the most of life. The building is a means to an end to achieve that.”

The building in 125-135 Deansgate it is not listed but lies within the Deansgate Conservation Area.

The Bolton News:

In the planning statement, the applicant promises to have a positive impact on the Deansgate Conservation Area and its setting.

The statement said: “From the outset the proposed design approach has therefore been to work with and promote the best features of the Conservation Area, maintaining its overall appearance and architectural ethos, whilst providing a range of upgraded and modernised facilities.”

The design of the new building is said to take reference from the Neoclassical style of the Civic Centre on Le Mans Crescent and the former Post Office on the opposite side of Deansgate.

The building will match the height of the other structures of the block it belongs to with the addition of a glazed upper storey.

The exterior of the proposed new building will be made with light grey and dark grey bricks and sandstone.

It will also use modern materials such as composite cladding, glazed curtain walling and polyester powder coated frames.

If the plans are approved and the building is demolished, the retailers at the street level will have to move out.

Among the affected retailers are Dean Cocozza’s Gents Barbers Shop, Caroline Webb Hairdressing and Third Space Cafe.

One retailer, Pizza Village, currently has a sign on its shop window stating that the business is up for sale.

CLC, which has been operating in Bolton for more than 50 years, will also be affected if the proposed development goes ahead.

David Thurairatnam manager of the Christian bookshop said that there have been rumours about future changes to the building, but he did not know that his landlord had plans to demolish it.

He said that sales in his store have declined since the Moor Lane bus station closed and the town’s central bus station moved to the Bolton Interchange.

The recent closure of the Post Office opposite the store, which moved to Oxford Street in August, and the closure of Beales department store have also had an impact.

Mr Thurairatnam, who has managed the specialist bookshop for eight years, said that the area has been neglected and the town centre desperately needs a car park to attract more visitors.

He said: “Bolton is not a city, it’s a town and we need people to come into the town.”

The bookshop will now consider its future at the Deansgate location, but Mr Thurairatnam said he is likely to object to the plans.

Before work commences, the planning application will have to be approved and YMCA will have to raise £7 million.

A council spokesperson said that the proposal does lie within the five intervention areas of the Bolton Masterplan.

YMCA Bolton recently received funding from the Lloyds Foundation to deliver the Reclaimed Futures project for two years.

It has also been commissioned by Bolton NHS CCG to deliver community mental health intervention as part of the THRIVE partnership.

But Mr Cronin said that this project will rely heavily on donations from the Bolton community.

He said: “This is a big project for the community. Hopefully the community of the area will support us because of the heritage of the YMCA in Bolton.”