WORK on the £1.2 billion transformation of Bolton town centre is expected to start by the end of the year.

Not only is that good news that things will finally start happening, but it is also a 20 per cent increase on the planned development to move the town centre from a retail-driven area to more of a residential focus.

There are five key areas in the masterplan ­—Crompton Place, Church Wharf, Trinity Quarter, Croal Valley and Cheadle Square.

Work on three of these is expected to get under way later this year, representing a major step towards the overall regeneration.

In Crompton Place, retail space will be reduced but key anchor stores such as Primark, M&S and Boots will remain and possibly expand.

The area would be transformed to offer more food and drink, leisure, commercial and residential space.

The £150 million plans for Church Wharf is to build more than 350 homes alongside a new park, hotel and a bridge.

Croal Valley will see up to 500 homes built and a mix of other developments.

Cheadle Square will be home to more than 400 residential units and a further 500 homes will be built in Trinity Quarter.

These are major pieces of a vital jigsaw that will transform the centre of Bolton and make it somewhere that people will want to live, work and relax in the future.