SIR Howard Bernstein will lead the body responsible for the regeneration of Radcliffe, it has been announced.

The former chief executive of Manchester City Council will chair the Radcliffe Regeneration Delivery Board.

The body will provide strategic direction, delivery and oversight of the proposals.

Bury’s council leader said Sir Howard’s appointment was “a massive sign of how seriously we are taking this regeneration”.

In September, Bury Council adopted a strategic plan for the town which included priorities such as the introduction of a new public services hub in the centre of the town, new workspaces, a new secondary school and more leisure facilities.

Other outcomes favoured in by the public after a recent consultation included opening up access to the river Irwell and redevelopment of brownfield sites.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting which adopted plans for the regeneration board, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien said it was a “clear commitment to not just to talking  about regeneration in Radcliffe but to the delivery of the plans”.

He said: “This is the next step of the delivery process. It sets out who is responsible for overseeing and doing the delivery of the plan.

“It is a key part to move this forward. This new arrangement draws together a range of partners.

“It is not possible under current circumstances to expect the council by itself to transform and regenerate Radcliffe.

“We’ve always said that a clear issue is one of capacity and resource.

“One of basic assumptions was that we could influence things by having a clear vision and a delivery plan.

“A most significant appointment to the board is Sir Howard Bernstein.

“His track record around regeneration and delivery speaks for itself.

“We welcome him. It’s fantastic for him to give his time and expertise to this project.

“It is a massive sign of how serious we are taking Radcliffe.

“These plans are not going to sit on a shelf and gather dust.

“Sir Howard is very keen to see what he can offer in terms of delivery,

“We mean what we say. We will deliver on this plan but it will take time, it’s a long term plan.”

The board will have a schedule of bi-monthly meetings over its initial lifespan of 10 years.

It comprises key council officers, strategic partners and representatives from the private sector.

Speaking later, Sir Howard said: "As a resident of Bury I am very happy to support the council and residents at the start of the journey for transforming (Radcliffe).

"We will be working hard over the coming months to shape real improvements which will provide the platform for long-term change and ensure that everyone who lives and works in Radcliffe will have a town centre which will once again become a vibrant and important part of their lives.”

He was knighted for his services to Manchester in 2003.