The concept design for the Moor Lane site is simply not good enough. We have already lodged an objection and wish to encourage others to consider doing so.

Suburban-style town houses, but in the heart of the town, with parking spaces maximised for car-ownership that occupy sunlit courtyard areas devoid of multifunctional green space - this is not 21st century low-carbon design. The other elements are largely residential multi-storeyed bed-spaces while external infill areas and corridors have cosmetic ‘who owns them?’ green space.

Frankly, continuing to fill Bolton town centre’s prime development sites with cramped, green space-poor, multi-storey blocks, with a dash of 1980s’ suburban town houses, does not and never will deliver the sustainable communities we now need.

All Bolton councillors must reflect very carefully about what best makes real communities where none exist at present. Because we really do wonder where any grasp of that is.

For the 21st century, the centre’s built environment needs to engender communities. We need place-making resilient to heatwaves, to surface water flooding; we need urban food growing and safe child play spaces – not car parks! We need multi-functional green infrastructure actually designed to be cared for. Above all, we need excellent, low-carbon homes with great place-making for health and well-being that promotes community interaction.

The context to Moor Lane involves Bolton Council’s justifiable ambition to get people living in the centre. What should be informing this is a specific ‘Community Development Strategy’. A document that espouses what makes quality place-making in terms of architecture and planning for the 21st century. Where is such a document?

The starting potential for Cheadle Square and Moor Lane lies in its location to the West of Le Mans Crescent, with its portal gateway to the Civic Centre. The Moor Lane site is potentially the most prestigious site in the whole of Bolton, especially if allied to a remodelled Cheadle Square. We recognised this by our own, highly professional, 2016 scheme, from which the council has learnt nothing. This site is a ‘make or break’ opportunity to trigger an upward spiral of investment in the town centre. Bolton risks squandering this opportunity.

As Denis Healey used to say, when you find yourself in a hole stop digging. Bolton has to get itself out of a hole. Economic regeneration of Bolton town centre depends very much on attracting a demographic of future residents, including professionals, who wish to live and work here and help create and raise a more localised, thriving economy.

Richard Shirres

Bolton & District Civic Trust