A DEVELOPER has announced plans for a £27.5m town centre development.

Placefirst wants to build an ‘Urban Village’, compromising four blocks filled with rented accommodation.

The project is one of a number of schemes which will make up plans for Croal Valley, one of five areas designated for regeneration by Bolton Council.

The developer is proposing to build a mix of around 200 homes, including family town houses and a choice of one and two-bedroom apartments.

In addition to the residential elements, there would also be 15,000 sq.ft of office space and a range of ground floor commercial units.

Most of the residential properties would be built on part of what is currently the Central Street Car Park, close to the Bolton Methodist Mission Victoria Hall. It will front on to Deansgate, with new commercial space built on a section of the road which currently houses closed and empty shops.

The Bolton News:

Deputy council leader and portfolio holder for regeneration, Cllr Ebrahim Adia, described the area as “rundown and in need of redevelopment”.

It is thought that developers will submit a planning application later this year and, subject to approval, Placefirst aims to start work on the site by early 2020 with in-house contractor, Placefirst Construction.

David Smith-Milne, managing director of Placefirst, said: “Bolton Council has set out an ambitious vision for the town centre and we are excited to be working with such a forward-thinking local authority.

“We have developed our plans for Central Street with the wider town centre framework in mind and are confident our proposals will reflect that ambition.”

The council is working with a number of developers on projects in five areas — Croal Valley, Cheadle Square, Church Wharf, Crompton Place, and Trinity Quarter — as part of Bolton’s town centre masterplan.

Last week it was revealed that the masterplan is now worth £1.2bn thanks to increasing private sector investment.

Cllr Adia said he believes the £100m set aside by the authority has encouraged other companies to invest. He said: “The council’s £100m fund has triggered significant developer and investor confidence in Bolton, and it is great to see another exciting residential scheme coming forward for our town centre masterplan.

“It would see an area of land that is run down and in need of redevelopment completely transformed, with our first build-to-rent (BTR) neighbourhood.

“We are delighted to be working with Placefirst on this regeneration opportunity, and the scheme will provide high-quality housing on a brownfield site.”

The Bolton News:

Placefirst specialises in building accommodation to be used for rent and has been involved in a number of other large projects including a 73-home development in Leeds. However, Mr Smith-Milne says Bolton will be a new challenge.

He added: “Having cut our teeth delivering complex refurbishment projects in regeneration areas, Bolton represents an important new milestone for Placefirst as our first major town centre new-build BTR community.

“This project will show that town centre, urban living isn’t just for young people living in boring apartments.

“Through good design and excellent placemaking, schemes such as this will appeal to families, downsizers and the elderly, living together in a genuinely multi-generational community.

“As a build-to-rent developer and landlord, Placefirst put the end-user at the forefront of our designs, ensuring we deliver great homes complemented by attractive amenity spaces that bring communities together. Central Street embraces this thinking through the creation of a new residential neighbourhood characterised by human scale urban design and an engaging public realm strategy.”

Designed by MCAU architects, Placefirst says the scheme aims to “complement the historic fabric of Bolton centre through a mix of medium-rise buildings set out to create a network of people-friendly streets, squares and courtyards”.

As well as residential and commercial space, an outdoor art gallery is also being considered to “showcase Bolton’s creativity”.

In addition, the site is bounded to the north by the River Croal and Placefirst is working with the council on options to improve the riverside environment as part of wider strategy to improve pedestrian links along the river — similar to plans announcement by Muse for the Church Wharf site.

This proposal is the second plan put forward for the Croal Valley site after Forshaw Developments put in a planning application for a £35m residential development last month. Forshaw’s site would be on land fronting St Georges Road between Bark Street and Back Bark Street, across the river from the Placefirst development.