A steer in the right direction

15 Feb 2021 10:28
Published by: Scott Callan


“MAJOR strides” have been achieved in Horwich and Westhoughton to prioritise projects to receive a share of £16million regeneration funding, according to council chiefs.


At the end of last month, members of the Town Centre steering groups in each area met to endorse the “priority projects” that will see the first steps taken towards delivering regeneration masterplans for each area.

Approval is being sought to further develop projects and to firm up costs for implementation alongside the delivery of some ‘quick win’ projects. 

The improvements are part of Bolton Council’s package of support to kick start town centre regeneration in Horwich and Westhoughton, along with Little Lever and Farnworth.

Each district has carried out local consultation, developed a dedicated district centre strategy and masterplan which identified challenges and opportunities for their area and several key development proposals that will guide the long-term regeneration of the district centres.

The council says a two phased approach will be taken to implement the priority projects in each area. 

Phase one will be focused on implementing ‘quick win’ projects, completing further physical surveys and design work, and undertaking further public consultation. Phase two will concentrate on the implementation of the longer-term projects.

Horwich’s priority projects focus on: improvement works to Lee Lane and Winter Hey Lane; Improvements to Old Station park including pedestrian and cycle links; public realm improvement works on and around Hampson Street; a car parking strategy to assess future requirements and public realm improvements in Blackrod.

Westhoughton’s priority projects include: improving pedestrian links to the town centre; a car parking strategy; an assessment of future requirements for remodelling Market Street; improvement works to Central Park; securing the future use of civic buildings and bringing forward proposals for key development sites in the centre.

The council says that £4m of the regeneration monies will be used to “co-fund” the £13.3m Future High Street Funding received from central government.

Councillor David Wilkinson, who chairs the Westhoughton steering group, said: “We’re hopeful that the additional money for Westhoughton will allow us to make physical improvements and to make the town centre and Central Park a more attractive place for residents to visit.

“It will be an opportunity to encourage businesses to also invest in our thriving town centre.

“There will be future opportunities for residents to be involved in the consultations for the physical layout of Market Street, the use of the civic buildings such as the town hall, the library and the Carnegie Hall and Central Park. Residents’ views will help to frame all of these long-term strategies so I would encourage people to take part.”

Horwich group chair, Cllr Marie Brady said: “The purpose and focus of Horwich town centre regeneration is to create an environment that allows our existing and future businesses, entrepreneurs, unique shops, cafes and restaurants to thrive and prosper.

“New residents, younger generations and internet shopping are changing the high street. Successful town centres are those that meet the needs and expectations of the community, recognise when changes are needed and adapt to meet them.

“The investment in Horwich will help to create a safe and visually attractive public realm for window shopping, browsing and socialising that encourages residents and visitors to Horwich and Blackrod, with sufficient parking and with safe, direct links and improved access for those who choose active travel.

“Priorities for Horwich and Blackrod, were identified by public consultation, and are being taken forward using evidence from other successful town centres, feasibility studies and detailed assessments.”

Bolton council leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “These boards are chaired and run by locally elected councillors with participation from local businesses and residents who have worked together to determine achievable and deliverable development proposals for the best of their town.”

Approval of the phase one development priorities budget will be sought from council cabinet members next month.

Final costings as part of phase two will then be taken back to cabinet members for approval in the autumn.

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