Options to transform the centre of Bury are to be drawn up to ensure the long-term success of the town’s retail and visitor attractions.
Bury Council’s cabinet agreed to appoint consultants to prepare a town centre masterplan to guide major developments over the next 10 to15 years.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, said: “Bury has undergone significant transformation in recent years, with major developments such as The Rock bringing new shops, leisure facilities and accommodation to its heart, and being one of the busiest retail destinations in Greater Manchester.
“However, developments such as online shopping – which by necessity flourished during the Covid-19 lockdown – has brought seismic changes to the high street. Increasing rents and business rates, wider economic conditions and a shift in consumer spending away from products towards experiences and lifestyle, have also altered the landscape.
“The town centres that survive the fallout from the relentless shrinkage of physical retail are those have a diverse range of visitor and leisure attractions, modern workplaces and a reconfigured and varied retail experience, well connected by public transport and high quality pedestrian access.”
Cllr O’Brien cited parts of the town centre – the wider area around Bury Market and the space between the new Rock and the old Rock – as possible major focus points of the masterplan.
The masterplan will have a strong commercial focus, and also identify the potential to boost employment such as offices. Options could include further hotel development; a new multi-use flexi hall at Bury Market and space for the creative industries; high quality urban housing; an educational zone linking with Bury’s colleges; and a new transport interchange.
Cllr O’Brien added: “The council has a key role to play in bringing together investors, land owners and cultural institutions. We must work closely with the owners of the two major retail centres, The Rock and Mill Gate.
“The masterplan must also consider how we make the town centre an attractive, clean and safe place for people to gather.
“A new town centre masterplan will play a key role in supporting economic recovery in the short-term and provide the foundations for Bury town centre to maintain its vibrancy and its status as one of the strongest centres in Greater Manchester for years to come.”
The commission to prepare the Bury town centre masterplan is likely to take around six months to complete