Our town used to be a shopping hot spot but now it's a 'ghost town' – stores are boarded up & people have left in droves | The Sun

A ONCE-thriving shopping hot spot is now full of boarded-up shops after they were forced to close.

Crompton Place in Bolton was known as the 'Diamond of the North' – but now it's a 'ghost town'.

Once home to the Whitakers department store and the Prestons of Bolton jewellers, Crompton Place was hit badly by the rise of online shopping, with Marks & Spencer recently closing its Deansgate store.

Many locals slammed Bolton Council for failing to step in.

Councillor Martyn Cox told the Manchester Evening News: "The town hall's reaction could have been quicker.

"They were slow to see the winds of change.

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"There is a future for town centres, there's a big future for Bolton town centre but it's not as it was in the 70s and 80s when retail was booming.

"This is a problem affecting every town centre.

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"They were for so long built on the back of retail.

"What has happened is people are not going in to shop, so what are they going to be doing in the future? That's what you've got to work out."

But now the local council plans to invest £1bn redeveloping the decrepit centre in the hope of bringing shoppers back.

Council bosses plan to build hundreds of homes, green spaces and a hotel around Bolton town centre, and have already modernised the historic market with a new food hall and outdoor area.

Mr Cox said: "People will still want to go out and have a drink and have a meal.

"The plans that Bolton have got make sense, they're big, they're transformative, but it will take time.

"If you come back here in 18 months time, you will see lots of cranes, lots of diggers, lots of development going on.

"It's at that moment that it becomes real for people. We can talk all day about designs and concepts and planning permission but until people see action on site, it's not happening."

He added: "People have such fond memories of Bolton when it was a retail destination that they think 'bring that back'. There is no way we can bring that back.

"The futures of town centres are different. It's going to involve people living and working in the town centre, it's going to be a mix of experiences like bars, restaurants and coffee shops and some retail.

"The town centres that get that right will be the successful ones.

"The pessimism that there's no future in town centres is missplaced.

"Time and time again, towns like Bolton have regenerated themselves.

But Councillor Cox slammed Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove for blocking Westminster funding for the redevelopment.

He said: "It was frustrating. We will express our disappointment but we're not going to get embittered.

"We've got a huge amount to do. While we keep bidding for new money, we're going to get on with some of those projects.

"The people of Bolton have been very patient regarding the town centre.

"They've had a number of knock backs. Covid hit us hard. We had to really pause everything.

"I'm grateful that they've been patient but it's now time for us to stop talking and start delivering."

It comes after parents on Britain's "most disgusting street" said they won't let their kids play outside because of a 7ft mountain of rubbish infested with rats.

Residents of Sladefield Road in Birmingham said their lives are made 'hell' by the festering piles of trash left along their street.

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Homeowners on a newbuild estate are also furious because they can't park on their own drives.

Parking issues at the Becklands estate in New Waltham, Lincolnshire, have turned residents' dream homes into a nightmare.

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