ONE of Bolton’s best loved beauty spots has been sold for £50,000 — £30,000 below its asking price.

The identity of the new owners is being kept under wraps but The Bolton News understands the Blue Lagoon, in Belmont, has been bought by a Horwich-based consortium in a deal worth £50,000.

It is thought it will now be upgraded so it can be used for recreational purposes.

Despite getting the site for well below the £80,000 asking price, the new owners will now have to spend another £50,000 to bring the lagoon up to current flood safety standards.

The sale marks the end of a long campaign by neighbours, led by Railton Hirst, who launched an internet supporters’ group to save the water.

The lake was drained in May when owner Julian Smith, the boss of Belmont Holdings, pulled the plug to avoid being penalised by the Environment Agency, but it filled again at the end of last month after sustained heavy rain.

Work needs to be carried out to bring the site up to the legal requirements demanded by the Environment Agency, which said the 150- year-old reservoir did not meet modern flood-risk standards.

The sale was agreed between Mr Smith and the new buyers on Friday.

Negotiations were brokered by North West property consultants Lamb and Swift managing director Nick Swift.

He said: “The sale went through relatively smoothly and the new owners say they will make a formal announcement about it within the next seven to 10 days.

“They are well aware of what they need to do to bring the lagoon up to standards required by the Reservoir Act 1975 at an estimated cost of around £50,000 and they have about 12 months to carry them out before the date of the next inspection in 2011.”

When Mr Smith drained the lagoon it sparked outrage in Bolton and Belmont.

Protester Mr Hirst launched the internet campaign to save the reservoir, which quickly attracted some 4,000 supporters. Mr Hirst said: “It is very good news to hear the consortium from Horwich have bought the lagoon, which is, after all, a well-known local landmark.

“From what I understand the lagoon will be used for recreational purposes but we would love to meet up with them and find out what plans they have, what they want to do with it and where they want to go with it.”

He said he hoped the internet campaign had had some effect on who the lagoon was sold to and said the number of internet supporters had now risen to 6,800.