A MAJOR redevelopment of Bolton town centre worth £250m, starting with the demolition of Crompton Place shopping centre which was given the go ahead by the council on Thursday, will take more than four years to complete.

In that time businesses based in and around the shopping centre will have to move – but it is hoped they will simply move to other spots in the town centre.

Negotiations with existing occupiers in Crompton Place shopping centre, including “anchor” stores such as Primark and Boots, are already underway.

Bolton Council bosses hope that businesses will stay in the borough if they cannot be relocated within the town centre where sites are already available.

Paul Whittingham, assistant director for development and regeneration at Bolton Council, revealed that the local authority purchased the empty unit where Costa Coffee was located last, with Crompton Place tenants in mind.

He said: “We’ve got space there and the aim is to, as much as possible, move existing occupiers of Crompton Place into new locations around the town centre.

“There may be some who chose they want to move elsewhere in the borough. We’ve got to have those final negotiations with all of the actual occupiers.

“The difficulty is that there’s ongoing discussions with both Boots and Primark and I wouldn’t like to be announcing those commercial negotiations as part of a planning committee process.

“I can certainly advise that we’re actively looking at ways to find solutions to those businesses staying and operating within the town centre, ways to expand other businesses within other locations within the town centre.

“If Boots were to reduce the size of their operation here or where they are within Crompton Place or cease to operate in that location, then it’s how we can ensure that they can expand elsewhere in the town centre.

“But those are detailed discussions and commercial discussions that need to take place with those appropriate occupiers.”

Now that planning permission has been granted to knock down the shopping centre, work can start as early as January – but it is currently planned in March.

Bolton Regeneration Limited director Steven Turner said that if work does not start by March, it will have to wait until July or August after the nesting season.

The work will take place in two phases, starting with the part of the shopping centre which faces Victoria Square, before moving to the Bradshawgate side.

It has been proposed that Mealhouse Lane will be closed for some of the construction but, Hotel Street and Market Street would be open to pedestrians and vehicle access for demolition workers.

Mr Whittingham added: “We’ve been engaging with the developers for a long time on the construction and logistics.

“There’s a policy for how good construction will take place and part of that role will mean actively engaging not only with the occupiers of the actual site, but with the occupiers of the surrounding buildings to make sure they can be supported through the construction process.

“Even during the construction, the challenge I pose to Steven and his team is to find a way to reopen that link to Bradshawgate to support those surrounding businesses in and on the other side of the development, to ensure that existing businesses that are operating aren’t impacted by the period of construction and demolition.”