The vacant Marks and Spencer building in Bolton town centre is now worth £5 million, leader of Bolton Council has said.

Bolton Council first bought the Deansgate building in 2019 for £15M as part of their plans for the redevelopment of Crompton Place.

After claims made this week by opposition leader Cllr Martyn Cox that the value of the building has plummeted to £1M, council leader Cllr Nick Peel has revealed it is now actually worth £5M.

Cllr Peel said: “I don’t know what the Tories are going on about, the building was purchased to help with the redevelopment of Crompton Place, to help with access issues.

“We’re currently in the last stages of negotiation with Marks and Spencer over the lease and we will have a major announcement on the future of Crompton Place in the coming weeks.”

The Bolton News: Marks and Spencer shut last yearMarks and Spencer shut last year (Image: Newsquest)

Bolton's Marks and Spencer has been empty since April 2023, with the company first having announced its plans to close in January of that year.

The vacant building has prompted widespread speculation about the future of the space and about the fate of Bolton’s high street more generally since then.

Cllr Peel said that the council’s current access balance sheet showed the value of the building to be £5M.

This he said could also be taken into account along with the estimated £1M a year that the rent on the building had generated for the council since 2019.

He also said that this was crucial to how the Crompton Place shopping centre would be redeveloped.

Cllr Peel said: “It was a legal obstacle, not a physical one, to the redevelopment of Crompton Place.

“So if people want to see a redeveloped Crompton Place then they will need to support us here.”

Labour’s Cllr Peel had been responding to claims made by Conservative leader Cllr Cox at a town hall meeting called to decide the council’s budget earlier this week.

Responding to the £5M figure, Cllr Cox said: "Ultimately whether its £1M, £5M or something in between it still represents a huge loss of capital.

"You can argue till the cows come home how much its worth but it represents a huge loss of tax payers' money.

"To be quite frank to have something worth £15M deplete after five years to between £1M and £5M is not an effective use of council resources."

Turning to the wider regeneration of the town, he added: "More important than that is that £100M was borrowed to regenerate the town.

"Where is the regeneration in buying a building and then losing £10M over a five year period?"

Cllr Cox had first raised the drop in value when speaking to town hall earlier this week about the legacy he says his party had inherited when it ran the authority between 2019 and 2023.

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Addressing the meeting, he said: "One of the things we inherited, that was Labour’s parting gift to us, they bought the Marks and Spencer building for £15million.

“I cannot for the life of me think that that had to do with our town centre regeneration projects.

“We had five clear intervention areas that we were going to intervene in in order to regenerate and that never included the Marks and Spencer building.”

He added: “We spent about £15million of it and it is now worth about a million pounds.

“It was one of the worst capital allocation decisions that this council has ever made.”