Bolton, now more than ever, must build for the future; a future unlike the recent past.

So what to make of these latest ‘Trinity Gateway’ proposals: a 20-storey monolith, containing 144 apartments, 30,000 sq ft of office space and a 505 space multi-storey car park?

Can this be regarded seriously as the essential piece of regeneration for the town centre, especially in our age of ‘climate emergency’, or is it just a quick attempt to shadow Manchester’s misguided high-rise craze?

This scheme would compete directly with residential elements of Bolton’s other town centre schemes: all looking to a similar same market, e.g. Church Wharf, Crompton Place, Central Street, etc..

This raises the question, ‘Why look to channel most of the potential demand into one high rise block when it could be spread more evenly around lower-rise development in the various competing sites?’

In planning design terms, Bolton Council has well resisted high-rise blocks in the town centre, maintaining an even height of 4-6 storeys; so protecting its ‘historic’ character and retaining the prominence of its two most important buildings: the Town Hall and the Parish Church.

The town centre’s Conservation Area preserves its unique character and vistas. Being not just aesthetically incongruous, this high-rise development is counter to the goal of lower-rise streetscapes appropriate for regenerating a centre at a human scale.

So we pose a series of questions:

1. Where is the market-research showing this development is desirable for Bolton’s own economy? These ‘executive’ apartments, allied to a multi-storey car park, only promote Manchester-bound commuters, further feeding Manchester’s booster-ism?

2. How is additional provision of over 500 plus car-parking spaces consistent with a ‘Net zero carbon before 2040 Greater Manchester’ vision, when we desperately need to reduce journeys with begun by car and, instead, create settlements that encourage much lower car ownership?

3. How does a monolithic high-rise block, with austere ground level setting, contribute to meeting the need to foster real social communities across the town centre?

4. Have the designers seriously considered and met the needs for a net zero carbon development? Because it is now imperative that the building services of habitation fully exploit and integrate green infrastructure for enhanced building functionality, which can serve people’s well-being.

5. How does the scheme’s form and setting contribute to climate resilience for its inhabitants and users?

Nobody should imagine we can afford the laxity of having new developments that once built need to be retro-fitted to a zero carbon standard. The massive carbon liability of existing buildings is already huge without adding further to the burden of the next generation. Invisible to some, Bolton has declared a climate emergency and it needs to face up to how our urban areas develop.

Bolton must define itself as a sustainable town not a dormitory appendix to Manchester. We must also adapt and mitigate for future climate extremes, building places where people can thrive.

We think it far better to opt for a lower-rise, far ‘greener’, solution that conceptually furthers the other needs of regenerative development in the Bradshawgate area. The Bolton & District Civic Trust objects to this Trinity Gateway scheme because it does not serve the social or environmental needs of a future Bolton. We encourage all others who have similar concerns to make them known against this application.

Richard Shirres, Mark Head & Stuart Whittle of

Bolton & District Civic Trust