A new £40 million student village accommodating up to 850 students in the heart of Bolton town centre has moved a step closer.
Bolton Council has been in talks with the University of Bolton to identify the best site to replace its existing student accommodation.
Council and university chiefs have now confirmed that Cheadle Square, behind the arches on Le Mans Crescent is the preferred location to deliver the project.
Preliminary designs have been unveiled but these will now undergo further development and review. Subject to the final scheme agreed, delivery may take place in one or two phases.
A memorandum of understanding has now been signed by Bolton Council, the University of Bolton and PSP Bolton LLP, the developer delivering the scheme, underlining their commitment to the joint project.
Funding for the village will come from PSP, the council would provide the land for the campus and the university would agree an annual rental income to the council.
The agreement also means council and university bosses have given the go ahead for PSP to undertake more detailed design and costing work.
Once this has been carried out, and legal terms agreed, a planning application could be submitted in the Autumn. Subject to approvals, PSP could start work on creating the new campus next Spring, with building work likely to take a few years.
The new campus will replace the university’s existing halls; Orlando Village, on Thynne Street, and The Hollins on Radcliffe Road which together provide 700 single study bedrooms.
It is envisaged that the new halls will contain a range of accommodation, including studio apartments, and flats with en-suite rooms and kitchens. Rental cost would vary to reflect the standard of the accommodation.
As part of the plans, the university will also move into the centre sections of Le Mans Crescent, where its student union president, the vice chancellor and registrar will be based as the university head office. In addition, the law school will relocate adjacent to the magistrates’ court.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “We are committed to driving economic growth and this is a very important piece of our town centre regeneration plan.
“Introducing a major student campus of this kind really establishes Bolton as a university destination. And a town centre student village means that there will be thousands of additional residents in Bolton town centre, which will mean more customers and footfall for businesses.
“The town centre’s long term future is dependent on schemes like this, together with all the investment we’re making in facilities at the Albert Halls, the new Interchange, and the regeneration of Newport Street.”
The University of Bolton has 11,000 students, 800 staff and brings an estimated £1 million a week to the local economy.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor George Holmes, added: "This is a magnificent example of the true civic leadership shown by our council. They have embraced the university, and "town and gown" have never been closer. This next 40 multimillion pound development comes at the right time, when our university has the highest percentage growth in student applications in the UK.
“We are one of the financially strongest universities in the country and the confidence we now have to take developments forward is growing by the year. The student village complements a further £35m development plan for new facilities underway on our main campus. This includes the new University Technical College, the new national centre for Motorsport engineering and our new Queens campus for dentistry and bio medical sciences in Farnworth.
“In addition, we are planning to build a creative industries centre for our film, digital and BAFTA winning special effects team. On top of the results of the recent government research audit which classifies six out of seven of our academic areas as world leading and all seven as internationally renowned, we are on a high. All this just 10 years after we gained university title and 190 years since we were founded as an institute.
“Great times in a great town. As I just complete 10 years here this year as the Head of the University, I look forward as a recent new resident of Bolton to the next ten years at this remarkable university."
Adam Cunnington, from PSP, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners the Council and the University to deliver another project that has the potential to bring about significant positive change for the town. This is one of many projects, small and large, that we are working on together for the benefit of the residents of Bolton.”