BOLTON has finalised its bid for £25million of regeneration cash from the ‘Towns Fund’ with the council leader saying he will be ‘very, very surprised’ if the application is not successful.

In September 2019, Bolton was announced as one of the 101 towns eligible for support from the Government’s £3.6billion towns fund.

The fund intends to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic growth.

If it can convince government of the scheme’s value for money, the borough could have up to £25m allocated to it which will need to be spent by the end of March 2026.

Bolton has already received £1m in advance funding and a decision on the rest is expected before the end of the year.

Each town nominated for funding is required to establish a Town Deal Board, which is the body through which the vision and strategy for the town is defined.

The board must be chaired by a representative of the local business community, which in Bolton’s case is Belinda Beaver, in her capacity as a business owner and her role with the Bolton Chamber of Commerce.

The town board has now finalised its priority schemes for the bid while rejecting others.

Among the schemes which have been put forward in the plan are for The Wellness Centre to have a high-end spa and leisure facility next to the Le Mans hotel.

This is intended to ‘draw in day visitors’.

Another priority project is to improve pedestrian connections to the transport interchange, Le Mans Crescent and Newport Street.

A third scheme could see further extension and upgrade to Bolton’s Central Museum and Art Gallery to ‘provide an improved destination and focal point to the civic quarter’.

Among the schemes left out of the proposal are plans to redevelop Elizabeth House as ‘Bolton Council does not own the building, and the case for public intervention at this time is unclear’.

At a council cabinet meeting which approved the bid this week, leader David Greenhalgh, said: “Everything is positive so far.

“We already been allocated £1m to get proposals up and running and we should hear back by end of the year.

“The Government want to see development happen very quickly with timescales starting in March and April.”

The towns fund is entirely separate from the £100m investment planned for elsewhere the town centre over the next decade for leisure and culture, office and residential development, which the council hopes will be combined with up to £1bn of private sector investment.

Challenged by opposition leader Nick Peel on what the council’s ‘plan B’ was if the funding was denied, councillor Greenhalgh, said: “The towns fund is an important part of our regeneration plans but not the whole picture .

“It’s not an either or within the main regeneration plans. All our eggs are not in one basket.

“These words could come back to haunt me but I shall be very, very surprised if we don’t get some proportion of our bid for the towns fund.

“If it doesn’t happen it won’t mean these plans will go to waste.

“We will have some very good schemes built up, oven ready as you may want to call them, to move ahead whenever any more grants come together whether from Greater Manchester or Government.”