POPULAR town centre attractions are set to be transformed, open green spaces created and the development of a business hub under a £25 million bid revealed today.

Town Hall chiefs have submitted their plan for up to £25 million of funding from the government’s Towns Fund.

If the bid is successful, the town centre will see major improvements to the town’s big attractions ­- including Bolton Market, Central Library, and Aquarium - the creation of pocket parks and the opening of a new innovation hub for growing and start-up businesses.

There are strict criteria on how money from the government’s Towns Fund can be spent – it can only be used on Bolton town centre regeneration projects, and not used to offset budget savings or spent on other services.

Bolton is one of just 101 places which have been given the opportunity to secure funding from the government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund.The fund aims to support regeneration, skills development and connectivity through green spaces.

Bolton’s investment plan is seeking funding for four projects:

n A £5.19m improvement to Bolton Market, which would see the outdoor market refurbished, upgrades to the internal halls, and all the entrances to the building improved

n A £6.33m redevelopment of Bolton Central Library, Museum and Archive, which would expand the Aquarium, modernise the libraries and introduce flexible workspaces for local businesses and groups

n A £7.24m upgrade and refurbishment of the Wellsprings building to create an innovation hub for businesses in the creative and digital sector

n A £6.25m public realm project which would create a greener town centre, seeing footpaths and connections between key institutions improved, and new pocket parks and public spaces created The council has already secured an additional £1m from the fund, which will be invested in improvements to the public realm on Ashburner Street and the surrounding area.

The Bolton News:

Leader of Bolton Council Cllr David Greenhalgh (pictured) said: “This is additional one-off ring-fenced money from government coming to Bolton, which could signify the start of our regeneration plans.

“These are really transformative projects that respond to the consultation, build on what residents like and want improved, and deliver changes that people across the borough want to see.

“Their feedback has been incredibly helpful and has really helped us to decide what we needed to prioritise in our plan.”

The plan reflects feedback from the local community, which has helped to prioritise which projects to include.

 Over July and August local residents, businesses and community groups had their say on what they wanted to see improved.

 A total of 567 surveys were completed, and virtual workshops with 60 people and one-to-one interviews with 19 private, public and voluntary sector representatives took place. 

The Bolton News:

Chair of Bolton’s Town Deal Board and Director at Agitare Business Consultancy, Belinda Beaver (pictured), said: “A lot of hard work has got us to this point and I am really excited about these projects.0

 “Collaboration has been key to the decisions that have been made regarding appropriate investment of Towns Fund monies and the people of Bolton should be proud of these outcomes - they will make a difference to our town centre and set the stage for regeneration. 

“2021 will see the town centre landscape change for the better and help secure Bolton's recovery following the pandemic, providing upgraded facilities to businesses, residents and visitors alike. " 

The projects all lie within the Cheadle Square ‘intervention area’ – one of the five key locations in Bolton’s £1bn town centre masterplan.

 The next stage of the process will involve the council agreeing Heads of Terms with government and developing a full business case for the projects.

 Cllr Greenhalgh added: “This is a huge opportunity for us which will transform the area, as we also ensure work continues on our masterplan.

“This project is in addition to the bids we also have in for both Farnworth and Bolton in the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

 “The council has also allocated £16m to support the regeneration of Farnworth, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton town centres, in our commitment that the other towns within the borough will not be left behind.”