AN AMBITIOUS multi-million pound transformation of Prestwich has taken another step forward this week after Bury Council agreed to purchase a “key site” in the town centre.

The council has agreed to buy the Istanbul restaurant on Bury New Road, which it says will help facilitate ‘once-in-a-generation’ regeneration of the town.

Full purchase of the site is another stepping stone in the council’s attempts to gain land control to redevelop the Longfield Centre.

Ownership of the restaurant space will enable a central plaza to run between Bury New Road and the Prestwich Metrolink stop, the council says.

Former leader of Bury Council, Councillor Rishi Shori, said: “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve Prestwich centre.

“But with the retail, restaurant and leisure market fundamentally changing we’re stepping up as a local authority to take a leading role in this redevelopment.

“We want to create a top-quality district centre which builds on what already works. Prestwich has a vibrant independent restaurant and bar scene and this could be expanded further.”

Early design concepts for the regeneration scheme were revealed last year as part of the Town Centre Challenge — an initiative to overhaul six urban centres around Greater Manchester.

Under revised regeneration proposals, due to be unveiled in the autumn, the revamped town centre could boast a cinema, gym, hotel office suites and units, as well as new civic amenities.

Resolutions to ongoing parking an congestion issues are being explored and work could be done on the library and other public sector provisions.

The council is set to invest £250,000 from its 2019/20 budget to develop proposals and work to make further land acquisitions and attract tenants to sign up for spaces.

Further acquisitions will be funded from the council’s investment funding which will be repaid by income from rents.

If the necessary funding can be secured work on the scheme could start in late 2021.

Last week it was revealed that Bury Council's bid for government funding to support the Prestwich regeneration project has been unsuccessful.

An application had been made to secure Whitehall financial backing from the Future High Streets Fund.

However, Prestwich was not selected for for the next round of the scheme.

Cllr Shori said: “Despite Prestwich not being successful in gaining Future High Street funding we will commit the resources to fully design the scheme with a view to securing a planning consent for the scheme as early as next year.”