Following a public consultation earlier this year, Bolton Council is to sign off the town centre’s masterplan which will potentially see £27m invested in development, refurbishment, and public realm.
Interventions in the town centre are to include a new community and civic hub; extension and improvement to Farnworth leisure centre; £5m invested in public realm and connectivity; a further £5m towards improving building facades and signage; and redevelopment of Farnworth Market.
The market was bought by Bolton Council from St Modwen in March, and the council is now set to invest £2.5m to redevelop the site. The council has also set aside a further £3.5m to fund potential property acquisitions in the town centre.
The expected total investment in the town to bring forward the masterplan’s recommendations is £27m.
Further funds could potentially be secured from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund; Farnworth has been shortlisted for part of the £675m pot, and by being shortlisted, the council has been granted £150,000 to work up detailed project proposals for the town centre.
The masterplan, prepared by BDP, identified more than 56,000 sq ft of vacant retail space in the town centre, ahead of the national average; the council added the quality of existing retail units in Farnworth was “poor and likely to be contributing to a diminishing demand and footfall in the town centre”.
The town centre’s food and drink offering, largely centred around Higher Market Street’s pubs, is identified for an area of improvement; the council’s report said these “only appeal to particular client groups and do little to attract visitors from outside of the town or encourage dwell time”.
The masterplan’s main objectives focus on improving the renewal, development, and expansion of the retail precinct as well as encouraging mixed-use development in the town centre, with residential also set to feature.
“Farnworth town centre will be a vibrant and attractive environment, encouraging healthy lifestyles, offering a diverse range of shopping, leisure and cultural activities. Maximising the benefits of its proximity to neighbouring towns and cities, it will be a place that people want to come to live, work and socialise,” said the council.
Bolton Council approved the masterplan at a meeting last night; following approval, decisions on which projects to bring forward first and where to allocate funds will be made in the coming months.