Horwich town centre is set for a drastic makeover, and the public have been given a chance to have their say on the proposals. Kit Vickery went to the first consultation to see what people had to say.

The FIRST drop-in event to give feedback on the plans for Horwich town centre was held on Wednesday afternoon.

Events will be taking place in Little Lever and Westhoughton in the coming weeks, and mark the next step of Bolton Council’s town centre regeneration plan.

More than 20 people visited Horwich library within the first hour to see the plans and give their views

Terry Langford, a local resident, was at the consultation and said: “I don’t have any problems with the masterplan, I think bringing the shops closer together will make them more accessible but there’s not enough crossings.

“My concern is that by closing half of Winter Hey Lane the through traffic will just create problems elsewhere, but I don’t know what other options there are for them to consider.

“I don’t think there’s a great deal you can do with reorganising Horwich because it has it’s specific spaces and it’s always been like that.”

The current draft of the masterplan aims to focus future developments on Lee Lane and Winter Hey Lane in an attempt to strengthen the heart of the town centre.

Four themes for the future of Horwich have been proposed, concentrating on health, local business, day and night-time economy, and creative and digital aspects.

Five key development proposals (KDPs) have been put forward for discussion.

The first identifies the former leisure centre site as the potential new home of a health centre, town houses or apartments, and a long-stay car park for the new leisure centre, businesses, and visitors.

Winter Hey Lane, identified as the “heart of Horwich” in the plans, features in the second KDP with planners suggesting a remodel of the road, closing the northbound carriageway from Lee Lane to St John Street to improve pedestrian experience and safety.

Planners have also said that the remodelled road could be temporarily closed for markets and other events.

Old Station Park is mentioned in both the third and fifth suggestions, with ideas to redevelop sites on St John’s Street with a view of the green space for residential and community uses.

Plans for a path and cycle route through the park to connect the town centre to existing residential areas and major developments and leisure destinations.

Finally, the fourth KDP proposes a creative cluster in Hampson Street, offering an accessible location and low-cost business spaces for people to shop local.

In addition to these five proposals, more car parking, later opening hours for shops, and an app dedicated to Horwich have all been suggested.

Cllr Ann Cunliffe from the Horwich and Blackrod ward said: “Residents are really enthusiastic and looking forward to being able to give their views, everybody is engaged and it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done to get this Town Centre [Strategy] Fund.

“I’ve been telling them about this for the last year and the comments and the suggestions I’ve had on my Facebook page and from being out there have been phenomenal, I’ve been working on behalf of the residents to get them engaged and to send their feedback in.

“Bolton at Home have been working on this too, I’ve seen them going round and knocking on doors and encouraging their residents to take part – I know a lot of people will be putting their views and ideas in and that’s so important.

“It doesn’t matter what I as a councillor think of this, it matters what the people of Horwich think, the people living and breathing the area, the businesses, and the children – it’s their future and they should get a say too.”

The consultation will return to Horwich Library on Saturday from 10-2pm. Feedback will be accepted until February 23.