NEW proposals which could ensure a ‘comprehensive redevelopment’ of Farnworth have been approved.

Bolton Council has now formally agreed to put Farnworth forward to be one of the first areas to benefit from Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge.

The project has been created by the Greater Manchester Mayor in a bid to re-energise town centres in desperate need of regeneration by supporting the building of new housing developments.

The council admits that Farnworth is suffering from ‘a lack of confidence by developers and investors and a negative public perception’ because of the lack of progress on transforming the town centre.

Work on a new shopping parade at the town’s market precinct was due to be completed last year, but developer St Modwen has yet to even start work on the site.

A report approved by council leader, Cllr Cliff Morris, yesterday states: “Resources within the council are limited in terms of finance and capacity, and the complexity of the issues encountered on the development of Farnworth town centre has resulted in progress being slow.

“Should approval be given, The Town Centre Challenge could ensure the comprehensive redevelopment of Farnworth and renewed collaborative approaches to delivery.”

The report states that only Farnworth and Bolton town centres would meet the criteria to be part of the scheme, as other areas of the borough ‘do not have development schemes at a sufficient stage to enable a proposal to be worked up’.

The town hall already has a £1 billion masterplan to redevelop Bolton town centre, which was revealed earlier this year.

It adds: “Farnworth Town Centre is Bolton’s largest urban district centre, and currently has a stalled regeneration scheme which is having a negative impact on the town.

“This has led to a lack of confidence by developers and investors and a negative public perception.

“The priority intervention required is a mix of delivering the stalled development alongside a refresh of the previous masterplan to identify additional opportunities for development, including new housing provision.”

Farnworth councillor, Jean Gillies said: “Everybody is really chuffed about this.

“It has been a long time in the planning.

“You don’t want to promise things and then not deliver on them, so to have this happening is positive.

“The St Modwen issue is a real thorn in my side. They came in with grand plans and have not delivered on them.”

Atherton has also been nominated by Wigan Council to take part in the scheme.