THE BOSS of a town centre shopping centre says Bolton Council's multi-million pound purchase of the building is an "incredible opportunity".

Crompton Place was sold to the authority from banking giant Santander for £14.8 million last month as part of its £1 billion town centre masterplan.

It is expected to be extensively remodelled and then resold once updates are completed.

Paula Wood, shopping centre manager, said the response so far to the regeneration of key areas of Bolton town centre has been "hugely positive".

She added: "It’s no secret that it has been a difficult time for the retail world for a while now, so it’s with great pleasure that we can grab this incredible opportunity to play a key part in the change of our town centre with both hands.

"The multi-billion-pound investment will create an exciting hub of retailers, restaurants and services at Crompton Place and beyond, which will bring people back to high street and deliver the kind of shopping, dining and leisure experience that locals desire and most certainly deserve.

"We also have a fantastic community of entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses that will also reap the benefits of a new-look town. It’s so important for Bolton to show how proud it is of its rich diversity and demonstrate the significant contribution it makes to the UK economy.

"A spectacular stage is being built for us to do this and we are very much looking forward to collaborating with Bolton Council.

"This has been a long time coming and we can see endless possibilities for the growth of Crompton Place. We’re thrilled that the heartbeat of Bolton will be getting stronger over the coming months and years and we look forward to sharing more news as progress develops."

A planning application for the revamp of the centre, which does not include Marks and Spencer or the former New Look site, is expected to be put forward by summer next year - following consultation - and chiefs hope the project will then be completed within five years.

The Bolton News understands that the new centre will include no more than 30 per cent retail space but will also include office, residential and leisure units.

Council leader, Cllr Linda Thomas, added: "The purchase of Crompton Place is fundamental to support the regeneration and transformation of our town centre. It is at the heart of our town’s civic and retail core and this deal means we now have control of a major strategic site that is critical to delivering our Town Centre Masterplan.

"There will be no changes in the day-to-day operation and running of the shopping centre in the immediate future, to ensure it continues to operate smoothly for tenants and shoppers.

"We will now be focusing on ways to regenerate the area for the long-term benefit of the town centre and our residents across the borough.”

Crompton Place is central to the council’s Town Centre Masterplan, together with Trinity Quarter, Cheadle Square, Church Wharf and Croal Valley.

The council claims the £1 billion blueprint, funded via a low-interest loan, will create 7,400 new jobs and an extra £412 million of economic activity.