Nilesh Modhvadia

My Place | Bolton

Bolton is taking the right steps to address its struggling high street, but calculated risks can help take the town to the next level, writes Nilesh Modhvadia of Cowgills.

I returned home to Bolton last year, taking up the position of audit director with Cowgills which has been headquartered here for almost 40 years. Many of my clients are from Bolton and we are all passionate about our home town.

Having gone to school and college in Bolton and then Salford University it’s great to be on home soil again and exciting to see the huge transformation which is taking place here.

Bolton is now attracting unprecedented levels of international investment, something I never thought I would see.

But, like so many town centres, Bolton’s high street is really suffering and it’s distressing to see. It’s not just the number of units left vacant as retail habits shift but the lack of care, investment and maintenance in the town’s roads and buildings is becoming clear after such a long period of spending cuts and austerity.

Bolton’s masterplan should go a long way to redressing those issues but, in my opinion, it will need key stakeholders to take calculated risks to ensure deliverability. We need to strike the right balance of offices, bars, restaurants, housing and leisure to create a town centre where people actually want to spend their time and money. It will give Bolton more of a ‘city-centre’ feel as well as attracting visitors from other nearly towns. The signs of the commitment are certainly there.

More than 1.5m sq ft of commercial office space is also being created which will also support business growth in the town. That will be a springboard to job creation which has to be the starting point for any regeneration programme.

Bolton Council has shown its intent with the acquisition of Crompton Place shopping centre and proposed development by Midia and BCEGI so it will be good to see this come forward.

It is fantastic though that there is now a clear plan in place as well designated funds. It appears that tangible progress in being made, including the recently opened bus and train interchange which is a much-needed improvement to our local infrastructure.

Bolton also has some real historic jewels in its crown such as our Art Gallery and Museum which is one of the finest in the country. Educationally Bolton is also top of the class. Cowgills has extremely close links with both Bolton School and Bolton University which feed us with talented local individuals each year.

By attracting local talent we will continue to understand and focus on the improvements to Bolton and make sure we protect its very distinct personality as it transforms into a modern town of which future generations will also be proud.

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An interesting read, being a Boltonian theres been plenty of talk for years but i’m yet to see a spade in the ground. Really hope some of the town centre plans actually get built as its currently a ghost town. Plenty more jewels than just to art gallery… theres the new octagon theatre, Bolton arena, smithills hall, rivington / winter hill plus many more

By DJ

Bolton Council is making a huge mistake by using a very limited consultation as ‘evidence’ that cycling should be banned in the town centre. Successful regeneration needs to enable and encourage active travel modes while deterring car use.

By Active Travel Trev

Perhaps moving the lifeblood of the town, Football Stadium, Sports arena, retail centre and a whole district of new shops to Horwich was not the greatest idea ever. Oh, and approvals for more residential, leisure, retail and commercial are still being approved. Can’t work out the strategy.

By Architecto

Any benefits from the regeneration programme are still several years away and Bolton Council need to act urgently to prevent a further decline in the town centre. They have done nothing to reduce the number of beggars and druggies that lottier in the town. They need to reduce the amount litter and give the whole town a good clean to make it family friendly. Most of all they need to radically overall their parking strategy to provide free parking all day every day. How can the town centre shops compete on a level playing field with Middlebrook and The Trafford Centre without free parking?!

By Anonymous

As an operator who has been trying to develop the day time and night time economy in Bolton town centre I can agree wholeheartedly with the opinions expressed. Part of the vision to achieve a vibrant night time economy a town the size of Bolton needs is to gain investment in a quality hospitality sector that caters for the whole community. Part of the town plan
Businesses and local authorities working together in partnership to upgrade the customer offer and revitalise the town centre. This is I believe only the way forward to prevent further decline and build for the future.
We only need to look a few miles down the road to see what is possible from the transformation of Manchester. Smaller scale but achievable.

By John Wray . Venue Bar

Too far gone, it will never recover.

By Excess

Bolton great place, they can throw money around the town centre and other places, but get to Farnworth and little lever we are forgotten about, we have idiots flying up and down the streets, shops are closing because of rates, tong road and Lancaster drive in little lever are like race tracks, roads are in bad shape, so yes we’ll done Bolton

By Paul

Passed a few hours in Bolton last Friday 2nd August waiting for car to be serviced.

Honest opinion:

Bradshawgate looked like a film set from the Walking Dead.

Rest of the town centre seemed quite good.

By Pazazz

Im a boltonian & over my dead body would i ever go back to live there, the town as gone from bad to worse, wow, give the shops a lick if paint to make it look nice, not in my book it still looks the same drab & boring, took all the seating away so disabled people like myself can’t sit down rather disgusting in my book!

By Steph

It’s to late as bolton has gone down hill as they “to late after the horse has bolted” all the big high street names have gone. Had the council done something we still may have the high street names. Even in the Market place where the cinema is some of the food places are closed. There is not much choice of restaurants as there is at Trafford centre and Middlebrook and Bolton can’t compete with that and with free parking it’s impossible.

By Anonymous

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