PROPOSALS for a multi-million regeneration of Prestwich town centre have been welcomed by councillors, business figures and residents.

The comments follow the unveiling of ambitious proposals to revitalise the Longfield Centre at meeting of the project’s main partners last week.

In the wake of the meeting many were pleased that plans to rejuvenate Prestwich were getting off the ground and embraced the town’s involvement in the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Town Centre Challenge initiative.

However a number of concerns were also raised around the proposals, in particular over parking and potential effects on congestion, ensuring that local independent traders take are able to occupy new retail spaces, and guaranteeing that properties go to people from a wide range of communities and age groups to encourage integration and a sense of community.

Commenting after the meeting, Holyrood councillor, Cllr Tim Pickstone said: “It is great, after so many years, that the council is looking seriously at regenerating Prestwich Village.

“We don’t yet know the details of what might be proposed, but for us there are three things we will be looking to make sure the council gets right.

“Firstly, as well as a great retail and leisure offer, we must maintain our vital community facilities, like the library, walk-in centre and community spaces.

“Secondly we need to make sure that there are affordable places in the village centre that people, young and old, can afford to live.

“Finally we need to tackle the significant congestion that exists around the village centre both traffic and parking capacity.

“Let’s hope the council can get this right as the people of Prestwich have been let down too many times before.”

Sedgley ward Cllr Alan Quinn, added that he believed the Longfield Centre project is just the start of regeneration across the south of Bury, praising the council’s ruling Labour group efforts on investment projects throughout the borough.

He said: “People talk about Prestwich regeneration but we are putting our money where our mouths are. We are not just talking about regeneration we are doing it.

“As Prestwich councillors we are always looking to get what we can for Prestwich.

“I think Bury south is on the way up and this is the start of a journey, but it’s not going to happen over night.

“However it is looking good and we need to get this regeneration company set up and crack on with it. And we need to give people the confidence that we are serious.”

Another of those pleased by what they had seen and heard at the meeting was Paul Campbell, secretary of Village Greens Co-operative and Prestwich resident.

But he added that he had concerns about costs for prospective business tenants at the Longfield Centre which he believed may not be met by the new properties.

He said : “I welcome the development. Anything that’s good for Prestwich is good for everybody.

“I think it’s a well constructed approach with guiding principles that all sound extremely well thought out. Now they have got to go away and make it real ­— and that’s the hard bit.

“I don’t see this as a regeneration, I see this as an evolution, because Prestwich has changed tremendously in the last five years and now this is the next step to see changes in the next five years.”

Mr Campbell also noted that he believed more may need to be done ahead of final designs to ensure that parking facilities are fit for purpose.

He said: “What comes across is that the scope of the plans needs to be extended a bit. We do have a parking issue. Particularly if you are going to attract people into the area.

“It seems a little low on the parking side, but if the council has thrown the other car parks and spaces that could be incorporated into the pot, that would be a major plus if they could do that.”

Mr Campbell further commended plans to create walkways and a clear line of sight, to replace the current “dark, dingy and dismal” thoroughfares, between the high street and the Metrolink as a “great step forward”.

Finally concerns were also raised at the meeting by Sarah Jones, headteacher at St Mary’s CE Primary school, which neighbours the Longfield Centre.

Mrs Jones said that the renovated site may lead to issues around safeguarding for pupils at the school ­— particularly in relation to the properties potentially overlooking the school’s grounds, and about child safety due to increased traffic.