THE regeneration of Bolton town centre is expected to be well underway by the end of the year. Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN looks at how the masterplan is unfolding and what happens next.

THE town centre masterplan will be worth £1.2bn, with the first developments expected to start by the end of the year.

This boosts the overall investment by 20 per cent more than originally expected.

The masterplan has been kickstarted by the council with a £100m fund which is expected to generate more than £1bn in private sector investment.

It aims to move the town centre from a retail-driven area to one with a residential focus.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, it was also revealed that housing numbers are likely to exceed the initially planned 1,800 and potentially go beyond 2,000.

New commercial floorspace is likely to be close to 1.5m sq ft.

The strategy sets out five target intervention areas within the town centre.

Crompton Place

The shopping centre in the heart of the town centre is a major part of the regeneration plans.

The council plans to reduce retail space but retain, or possibly expand, key anchor stores such as Primark, M&S and Boots.

The area would be transformed to offer more food and drink, leisure, commercial and residential space.

The plan also includes creating a direct pedestrian link through to Bradshawgate and connections to Victoria Square, Hotel Street and Mealhouse Lane.

Development will be phased but it is anticipated that the first occupants could move in by 2023.

Church Wharf

The first part of the £150m plan to build more than 350 homes alongside a new park, hotel and a bridge has now been submitted.

The council has an agreement with national developer Muse which conducted a consultation on the proposals in January.

The initial phase focuses on clearing the site and investing in public realm and infrastructure.

Companies currently operating in the area are in discussion with the council about their future.

Work at the site could begin as soon as next year.

Croal Valley

The housing-led regeneration in the northwest of the town centre stretches along a corridor extending from Queen's Park to Knowsley Street.

The strategy envisages up to 500 residential units and a mix of other developments.

Work on a 250-apartment scheme at Pool Street and Bark Street is expected to start this year if plans are approved and take up to two years to complete.

The council has also entered into an agreement with a developer for more apartments and mixed-commercial spaces which could commence this year.

It is also working with the Environment Agency and United Utilities to develop proposals to improve the River Croal.

Cheadle Square

More than 400 residential units could be built in the area around the town hall which includes the former Moor Lane bus station.

An initial development brief has been approved and an application is expected in the summer allowing construction to start by the end of the year.

New streets and public spaces are also planned to improve links to Queen's Park and accommodate footfall from the university.

Trinity Quarter

Around 500 homes could be built in the £45m Trinity Gateway project.

A 230ft tower block, 500 space multi-storey car park and 30,000 sq ft office block are part of proposals.

Plans are being prepared as the site is cleared and development could also begin this year.

District town centres

A total of £12m has been allocated to other district town centres.

This is to prepare similar strategies and masterplans in consultation with local communities.

The targeted interventions are within the next tier of larger town centres in Bolton.

Specifically, the funds will be available for Farnworth, Horwich, Westhoughton and Little Lever.

The money will be allocated according to where it can have the greatest impact and ultimately lever private sector investment to secure development proposals.

This process has already started in Farnworth where a consultation on a masterplan is currently being undertaken.

The £12m is additional to funding already allocated to projects within the council’s mainstream capital programme, which also funds, and will continue to fund, projects in other district and local centres.

The council announced an additional £4m for district town centres when in its most recent budget announcements.

The money will come from the council’s share in private investment firm Public Sector PLC (PSP) Bolton.

The company works to maximise the council’s return on its land and property portfolio by making savings and generating new income.