Plans for Bolton’s new transport interchange have taken a giant stride forward with government approval of powers to secure the land required.
Following a two-day public inquiry in the summer, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has granted a compulsory purchase order (CPO) enabling the council to complete negotiations with landowners and tenants.
Property owners, businesses, tenants and members of the public affected by the development were invited to take part in the inquiry into whether CPO powers could be used to deliver the project.
The Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) project has been developed in partnership with Bolton Council.
Full planning permission has already been secured for the bus station element of the scheme, which will see a brand new bus station built next to Bolton railway station.
The project will provide better links between rail and bus services, as well as improved waiting areas, passenger facilities, accessibility, information, and safety and security.
Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: "This is excellent news and this decision marks another significant milestone in the delivery of this scheme. The interchange is a key part of our town centre development programme and supports our regeneration proposals for this area.
“We have already made significant progress to acquire the necessary land without having to go down the CPO route. Having the approval means that we can compulsorily purchase the land but we would only use the CPO as a last resort.
“We will still strive to complete negotiations without using it whilst continuing to support and assist the affected businesses where possible to relocate elsewhere within the town centre.”
Chair of the TfGM Committee, Councillor Andrew Fender, added: “This important decision means that we can now press on with the delivery of the new interchange in the confidence that any land issues associated with the development can – and will – be resolved.
“This is a fantastic project that will deliver major improvements for passengers and will provide a modern, striking gateway to Bolton town centre. I am really pleased that we can now press ahead.”
TfGM will continue to work with Bolton Council and bus operators to ensure Bolton Market and other areas of the town centre can be easily accessed by bus in the future.
A strategy will also be developed to signpost pedestrian routes to areas of the interchange and the town centre, including the market.
The project also includes landscaping and public realm improvements which will support the wider regeneration of Bolton town centre.
The scheme is being funded by £48 million set aside through the Greater Manchester Transport Fund to support Bolton Town Centre Transport Strategy.
Subject to securing the necessary approvals the new facility could be operational by 2015.
Plans for a high quality commercial development on the site are also being developed.