PROPOSALS for a huge housing and commercial development in the town centre have been expanded.

The plans look to completely redevelop the area around the River Croal, Ridgeway Gates and Brook Street to the East, Deansgate and Central Street.

The original proposals by the developers, Placefirst, were to build a six-storey block with 145 homes and commercial space in this area, while creating a new public square.

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Now they have expanded these plans to include 158 homes, ranging in size from studio apartments to three-bedroom townhouses, as well as expanding on the amount of commercial space available.

The revised plans have been recommend by Bolton Council, with it going to a vote at the council planning committee on Thursday.

The Bolton News: Place First's development for Central Street and Deansgate

An officers report said: "Despite the relative proximity of the River Croal, the Environment Agency considers the proposal to be acceptable from a flood risk perspective.

"Great care and attention has been given to matters of internal layout and outlook, resulting in a development which strikes an acceptable balance between the need to make efficient use of land in a sustainable location such as this and the living conditions of future occupants.

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"The demolition of the buildings fronting Deansgate will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the Deansgate Conservation Area and this harm is considered to be outweighed to the benefits of the scheme to regeneration, to housing supply, to an increased town centre population and by the other benefits of the scheme described within this report."

The new documents submitted with the revised plans showed that the applicants met with representatives of the Bolton Methodist Mission, including Reverend Paul Martin, and the Victoria Hall.

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This was due to the close proximity of the plans to Ridgeway Gates and the Victoria Hall.

Discussions around the potential traffic impact for tennants to access the car parking facilities and the positioning of the bin store came to positive outcomes, according to the statements.

The statement read: "The applicant confirmed that the proposed car park would be accessed from Central Street, and that there would be no access from Ridgeway Gates/Brook Street in the vicinity of Victoria Hall.

"The representatives for the Bolton Methodist Mission welcomed the proposed relocation of a bin store, which the initial submission had shown in a location on the opposite side of Ridgeway Gates from the entrance to the Walker Building within the Victoria Hall complex.

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"Overall the proposed amendments to the planned development appeared to be warmly received. The meeting closed with Rev Martin thanking the applicant for listening to viewpoints raised during pre-application discussions, expressing gratitude. He noted the proposed development to be positive and welcomed the regeneration benefits it will bring."

Other changes made to the plans include widening Central Street, which runs next to the development.

This will allow for two vehicles to pass through freely and allow unloading to take place at the shops on the road without completely blocking the road.

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Another footway will also be put on the side of Central Street, which the statement says will "provide benefit to both the prospective residents and existing pedestrians that use Central Street when accessing the Town Centre".

Access for pedestrians will also be improved on Ridgeway Gates with widening with changes made to the area also potentially reducing the volume of traffic for these roads, the developers said.

The statement added: "The creation of a new square and pedestrianised east/west link between Central Street and Ridgeway Gates (created through the stopping up Palatine Street) will provide an enhanced pedestrian environment and removes the need for pedestrians to walk within the carriageway.

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"And tactile paving is will be introduced at the southern end of Ridgeway Gates providing safer crossing opportunities for the numerous pedestrians that cross at this location."

Deputy leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Martyn Cox, said when the plans were submitted: “Croal Valley is a key site in Bolton Council’s £1bn town centre masterplan and PlaceFirst’s plans are set to transform what it means to live in Bolton town centre with the focus on high quality residential properties and attractive public spaces making it a more desirable place to live and work.

“These plans show that developers have confidence in Bolton despite the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and demonstrates the commitment that investors are prepared to make.”