MAC: Building Bolton Better

Recently, MAC Director Paul Holt chaired the Building Bolton Better event facilitated by the University of Bolton.

There, the University welcomed strategic investors, influencers and decision makers, together with guests from Bolton Council, housing, education and health sectors. The purpose was to bring the public and private sectors together to discuss the strategic opportunities and developments taking place within the area.

The event showcased the value of a connected approach between Bolton Council, the University, Royal Bolton Hospital in helping to transform Bolton and bolster to the local economy, with wider insight from potential delivery partners.

Commenting on the event, Paul said: “Building Bolton Better was a conversation that started in October 2021 at the University’s Industry Advisory Board. As it developed, we drew in support from the community, employers, the council, individuals, and the agenda set by the university”.

“We asked how the plans to develop Bolton could be better co-ordinated building on both the previous £1bn investment strategy completed several years ago and the new £1.2bn regeneration plan of the town centre and surrounding areas.  

Included in the debate were the plans to build circa 4,000 houses across Bolton, the ambitions of the Acute Hospital to attract new funding to develop both the hospital and the surrounding areas, the ambition for an international golf course, as well as expanding infrastructure, education and primary care.

Paul concluded: “We have brought people together to join the debate and engage with each other about what we are doing in Bolton.”

Gerry Brough, Director of Place Development at Bolton Council, said: “The Building Bolton Better Event provided an excellent opportunity for people interested in expanding their business network and finding out how they can help make Bolton an even better location for innovative businesses that want to collaborate with the University of Bolton and other organisations, and contribute to Bolton’s future economic growth.

“As Director of Place Development for Bolton Council, I was particularly pleased to inform delegates how Bolton Council is working in partnership with a number of key stakeholders, including the University, to realise the Council’s ambitious regeneration plans for Bolton and it’s four main district centres”.

Professor Peter Farell, Programme Leader for under and postgraduate construction and engineering programmes at Bolton University, added: “The event is the start of a continuing conversation about the £1.4BN regeneration of Bolton to be delivered over the next ten years, and to promote joined-up thinking between major players such that projects meet the needs of the local community. 

“ The workshop was able to learn of projects that have already started, and those that are close to ‘shovel in the ground’, with a total value of £250M.

“Delegates were able to share experiences, and discuss a variety of best practice initiatives for possible implementation. One theme central to the discussion was the ability of supply chains to deliver projects, in the context of on-going efforts to use Government funding through the apprenticeship levy system to upskill the workforce at both trade and degree level.

“A second event is in planning stage for late November 2022.”

Speaking on the success of the event Harinder Dhaliwal, Managing Director at Step Places, said: “A really insightful event into the tireless work the council and university are doing, to build a better Bolton.

“I feel bringing more employer engagement into future events would be a real benefit, aligning further the universities centre of excellence vision with the council’s place making initiatives across the town centre together, as both work hand in hand attracting and retaining talent with a sustainable living and lifestyle health offer with health and well-being at its core.

“This is a key part of the attraction in attracting and retaining talent as well as key employers to Bolton.”

Mark Whitaker, General Manager at Thomson FM consultancy, concluded: “It’s a great initiative to bring the public and private sector organisations together to collaborate with the University, Bolton Council, professional bodies and community as part of the levelling up agenda and regeneration of the area.”

Collaboration is the key to building a better Bolton.

That was the message at the first Building Bolton Better workshop at the University of Bolton.

Plans are already emerging for a further workshop towards the end of the year, with a more detailed focus on a specific topic, whether that is housing, health net zero carbon – further details to follow.