Bolton launches empty property project

Michael Hunt

A former insurance office in Bolton is being used by two charities under a council initiative which aims to make use of empty buildings within the town.

Charities Bolton Steps and Bolton Street Angels have teamed together and successfully bid for £8,000 to help them renovate and equip the building, located at 91 Bradshawgate in Bolton, which is owned by The Victoria Partnership.

Bolton Council was awarded £52,631 from the old government, last August, to support schemes that can help bring empty shop units back into use. The council said that grants are available to local charities, community groups, musicians, artists and businesses that bring an additional service to the town centre.

Bolton Steps, a local community mental health charity, is using the shop during the day as an internet café staffed by young people.

Bolton Street Angels, an organisation that works with door staff and Greater Manchester Police during an evening to help identify individuals who have become vulnerable after drinking too much alcohol, are using the premises as a night café. Street Angels is relocating from the Bank Street Unitarian Chapel to Bradshawgate.

Cllr Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council's executive member for development and regeneration, said: "Two very worthwhile projects have benefitted from the grant and I'm really pleased that we've been able to help them. The shop's been empty for more than a year and it's fantastic to see it back in use again. We're hoping to have other schemes come to life in the near future but grants are still available and I'd urge people to get in touch to find out more."

Bolton Council said that the two organisations have benefitted from a "peppercorn rent", which amounts to a small payment they have negotiated with the landlord.

The council added that the lease enables local groups to temporarily use a vacant property rent free or for a very small charge, with the understanding that landlords can continue to look for a commercial rent on the property.

Bolton Council said landlords also benefit as they do not have to pay empty property rates if the premises is occupied.

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