The masterplan for a drastic makeover of Westhoughton has gone on display. Kit Vickery found out what could be in store for the future of the town’s centre.

Six key proposals have been put forward to shape the future of Westhoughton.

The area’s masterplan focuses on five themes: turning Market Street into a healthy heart of the town centre, shopping local, evening economy, attracting businesses, and living in the centre.

The plans were put on display to residents at a drop-in session on Wednesday at Westhoughton library, with almost 50 people turning up in the first two hours.

Joe Roberts, a local resident, was at the consultation and said: “In the main part I’m incredibly positive, there’s areas that need a serious revamp.

“The areas they’ve identified show they’ve thought very hard –they’ve not been thought up on the back of a fag packet.

“As a resident, it’s really great to see.”

Geoffrey Hulme added: “Part of them I’m quite happy about, I’m not sure about the traffic changes because people drive like nutters here, I’d like to see Market Street pedestrianised but that’s obviously not included.

“There’s also a couple of spots that really need cleaning up that aren’t mentioned.

“Encouraging businesses to come into Westhoughton is great because they might encourage more people to come in too.”

The six key development proposals (KDPs) that have been put forward attempt to achieve the themes suggested for Westhoughton’s future.

Market Street is identified as the heart of Westhoughton in the first, suggesting a remodel of the street to give pedestrians more space.

Traffic will still be able to travel both ways up the street but parts of the road will be narrowed to give more pavement space, particularly near the town hall and market.

Pedestrians can also benefit from the second KDP, with plans to improve the links between Market Street and the town centre market car park, and from Library Street to Central Park.

Marsden Street will also be made more pedestrian friendly, with pavement improvements, lighting, and improvements to shop fronts.

Residents could see the Town Hall being redeveloped under new plans, as the Council is now using less of the available space.

Planners have suggested turning the unused areas into spaces for small businesses. There would also be a “start-up” area for new companies to find their feet, and a café for the new businesses and members of the public.

Access to the library and Carnegie Hall could also be improved under the new plans.

The fifth KDP states that granting separate access to the upstairs of the library would improve safety, security, and visitor experience.

Changes are hoped to increase the use of the hall, with simpler booking arrangements also proposed to increase use of the space.

Three empty sites have been earmarked for new property developments in the proposals, the former Gaiety site, land east of Mill Street, and land West of Sainsbury’s car park.

Cllr David Wilkinson, who represents Westhoughton South, said: "Some parts I'm OK with other parts I'm not. That's one of the reasons I want to urge members of the public to attend Saturday's session.

"I don't want to say what I like and dislike about it because I don't want to sway people's opinions

"Pushing Bolton Council to allocate money and then getting limited people giving their views lets Bolton get away with doing what they want and not thinking about Westhoughton."

The consultation will return to Westhoughton Library on Saturday from 10-2pm. Feedback will be accepted until February 23.

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