A MYSTERY developer is working with town hall bosses on plans to buy and redevelop Crompton Place.

Transforming the shopping centre is a key feature of a £1 billion regeneration masterplan revealed by Bolton Council earlier this year.

And the council is now entering into advanced talks with an interested developer, with a view plans for the centre's transformation being drawn up in the next six months.

Council bosses are remaining tight-lipped about the agreement, but minutes of a decision made by council leader Cllr Cliff Morris on Tuesday state that the council intends to enter into an exclusivity arrangement subject to the developer providing clarity on its intention to acquire the site in the next three months.

It is hoped that an overhaul of Crompton Place — which has suffered from the closure of BHS and other stores — will have a similar impact to the award-winning regeneration of the Market Place Shopping Centre.

Revamp proposals could include creating an upper floor terrace of restaurants overlooking Victoria Square, which the council's masterplan states could have a 'transformative effect in the way the town's historic centre is used and enjoyed'.

The masterplan adds that developing a 'stronger food and leisure offer' and a 'broader shopping experience' could create 500 jobs and be worth an extra £13 million to the town.

It adds: "While occupancy is good, the range of shops is at the lower end of the market and mainly meets the practical' convenience and service needs.

"North of Crompton Place, the Market Place Shopping Centre has significantly changed the town centre as a retail and restaurant evening economy destination.

"The quality of this opportunity and the critical mass generated are leading to further requirements for retail and restaurant space in the town centre.

"The issue now is that this benefit remains highly focused at Market Place and the 'prime' retail street of Deansgate."

Under the designs set out the in £1 billion masterplan, which was published earlier this year, the proposed restaurant terrace could be accessed via the vacant BHS unit.

Expanding the flagship Primark store vertically to double its current floorspace could also form part of the plans.

Nikki Wilson-Cook, centre manager of the Market Place, has welcomed the news.

She said: "I think this is going to be a really positive thing for the town and I would absolutely encourage it.

"It is all about having different offers in the town. We have more fashion brands and premium stores.

"But for Crompton Place to be developed would only be a good thing for the town.

"Hopefully we have been the catalyst for people to come and look at developing other sites in Bolton. That is what we are all about — giving the people of Bolton what they want."

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The council remains committed to redeveloping the town centre.”

Crompton Place's current management declined to comment on the redevelopment interest.

In 2014, plans were unveiled for a new 1,300-seat cinema and a complex of restaurants at Crompton Place, but those proposals never came to fruition.