New development works are “turning round” the town centre, Andy Burnham claims after a first look inside a major office project.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester was speaking on a visit to The Wellsprings, the former home of The Bolton News, which is now being transformed into a new space for offices.

He said this is one of many such projects across Bolton Town Centre that will shift the area away from retail and toward housing and cultural facilities.

Mr Burnham said: “I think it's turning round, and the council is leading that in bringing in high quality cultural spaces.”

He added: “When you have cultural spaces, start up and office space right here in the heart of Bolton then that really will revive the town.

The Bolton News: An outside view of the building opposite Bolton Town HallAn outside view of the building opposite Bolton Town Hall (Image: Newsquest)

“I think we really have to accept that retail has changed and that the old way of doing things with department stores and the like isn’t likely to come back in the same way.

“It’s all about footfall, that’s what brings the shops and the businesses back.”

The Wellsprings, just opposite the town hall has been vacant for well over a year since The Bolton News moved to its new home at Knowsley House in the autumn on 2022.

The Bolton News: Work is underway inside the buildingWork is underway inside the building (Image: Newsquest)

Since then, works have been undertaken by Robertson Construction and Clear Futures across the building’s five floors to create new spaces for businesses, mainly in the digital sector.

Bolton had received around £8.5M from the government’s towns fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund to make the project possible.

The Bolton News: Cllr Nick Peel, Andy Burnham and Cllr Akhtar Zaman outside the buildingCllr Nick Peel, Andy Burnham and Cllr Akhtar Zaman outside the building (Image: Newsquest)

In July last year the council signed off around £2.85M from its own funds to add to the project after surveys suggested the site was neither airtight nor watertight, with asbestos present.

ALSO READ: Transformation of town centre office into new 'Innovation Hub' gets underway

ALSO READ: First images show the multi-million pound transformation of town centre building

ALSO READ: Creation of Bolton town centre 'Innovation Hub' can continue as £2.85m approved

But council leaders and developers hope that the finished office block, to be known as “The Wellsprings Innovation Centre” will dovetail with other nearby developments in remaking the town.

This includes projects like the Moor Lane, Central Street and Church Wharf housing developments, all underway around Bolton town centre.

Mr Burnham said: “The answer is mixed-use, high-quality offices and mixed-use residential developments.

“They will support new demographics and that will bring in restaurants, bars and more businesses as well.”

The Wellsprings Innovation Centre is expected to open in September this year.