Greater Manchester shopping centre set for “once in a generation” redevelopment

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Here is what Bolton's Crompton Place could look like.

Bolton’s Crompton Place shopping centre is set to be demolished early next year – and it could lead to a potential £300m transformation of Bolton town centre. The move would provide direct links from Victoria Square to Bradshawgate and a mixed use development site would be created which could include shops and leisure outlets, town centre housing and health facilities.

Bolton Council bought Crompton Place in 2018, before beginning the process of supporting leaseholders to relocate so demolition work could start.

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A stumbling block to demolishing the centre, which was built in 1971, was a small number of remaining leaseholders.

These included Marks &Spencer, who closed their store on Deansgate a year ago, but retained a lease until 2027 which meant they retained access rights to the former store via the roof of Crompton Place and the bridge across Hotel Street.

However, after complex negotiations, the council’s cabinet is set to consider options to agree an early surrender of that lease. If accepted, it could allow for work to start as soon as anchor store at Crompton Place, Primark, completes its planned move to the former Debenhams unit at the Market Place shopping centre in late 2024 or early 2025.

CGI image of the plans for Bolton's Crompton Place. Credit: Bolton CouncilCGI image of the plans for Bolton's Crompton Place. Credit: Bolton Council
CGI image of the plans for Bolton's Crompton Place. Credit: Bolton Council | Bolton Council

The council said early stages of the project will focus on stripping the internal structure of the building, followed by work on the exterior. The authority said it will provide regular updates on progress and a public consultation will be held about the future use of the site.

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They said space would not be fenced or boarded off for long periods after demolition and ‘will continue to play an important role in the heart of the town

centre before, during and after regeneration work takes place’. Bolton Council Leader, Coun Nick Peel, said: “The redevelopment of Crompton Place is a once in a generation opportunity at the heart of the regeneration of our town centre, and I am sure everyone will join me in welcoming this major update.

“If agreed, this will present us with an opportunity to replace an underused and unappealing building with something everyone in Bolton can be proud of.

“It also gives us the opportunity to enhance Victoria Square and open up a direct link to Bradshawgate, with various buildings and open spaces on the site, rather than the single large building we have at present.

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“This will be our flagship redevelopment project, signalling to the private sector that Bolton Council is serious about regeneration and thereby attracting even more commercial investment.” The majority of shops previously based in Crompton Place have already relocated to other areas of the town centre including Market Place and Victoria Plaza.

Coun Peel, added: “This is part of the council’s plan to consolidate and concentrate Bolton’s retail offer, creating more space for residential, hospitality, leisure, and employment opportunities.”

Bolton Council’s deputy leader, Coun Akhtar Zaman, said: “Shopping will always be an essential part of Bolton’s identity. “But as more people shop online, modern town centres have to be about more than just retail.

“We are working to create a more vibrant destination where people want to live, work, study, eat out and enjoy our many cultural venues. “Regeneration projects like this are backed by our strategies to attract more visitors, hold more cultural events and make the town centre a safer and more welcoming place.”

The report will be considered at a cabinet meeting on Monday, March 4.

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