THESE pictures reveal the progress being made transforming the former Bow Street car park into a specialist shopping and leisure centre.

The Link will provide a home for a host of independent artisan shops, a leisure facility – including a swimming pool – and a food hall offering a variety of cuisines.

The developers behind the project – Spice Valley bosses Subhash and Geeta Kotecha together with Farhad Azimy – are hopeful the first shops and food outlets will open over the next four-to-six months.

The final phase of the project, an aparthotel occupying the upper floors of the centre, is expected to be completed within 12 to 18 months.

Mr Kotecha said that the project was running to plan.

He said: “We have done most of the structural work needed to stabilise the building and tidied it up.

“We have a number of potential tenants interested and have run mock-up units for them to have a look at, so they can understand what size they require.”

It has already been confirmed that Astley Bridge micro-brewery Northern Monkey will be opening a bar and brewing its own craft ales on site.

And there will also be an on-site bakery, Chorley-based All You Knead.

Mr Kotecha added that the centre would offer something different to the Market Place Shopping Centre, concentrating on local, independent and specialist shops, rather than the big high street names.

He said: “We are not trying to compete with the Market Place, we are trying to complement it and what’s happening generally in Bolton.

“They are all small artisan businesses. A couple of them have been trading online and want to showcase their products. We can’t go into names as we are in the initial stages of signing them up, but there will be someone making soap on site and another selling specialist gifts.

“They are people that have got something different to offer, rather than the usual shops that you find.

“We are not actively marketing it, but by word of mouth we have about 20 people on board.”

He added that he hoped The Link would play a key part of Bolton’s regeneration, as the new transport interchange bring the town into an exciting new era.

He said: “In simple terms it’s like the old market hall for small businesses, which is something that is missing from Bolton town centre.”