PROPOSALS to transform the heart of Prestwich are about to take a giant step forward after Bury Council unveiled plans to buy the Longfield shopping centre from its current owners.

Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, said: “This will be the single biggest breakthrough in a decade, removing one of the biggest roadblocks to the regeneration of Prestwich. This will mean we can finally move from the passenger seat to the driving seat in bringing a new modern town centre to Prestwich.”

A report going to the council’s cabinet tonight (Wednesday, March 24) proposes that the council buys the precinct and forms a joint venture (JV) with Muse Developments to regenerate the site.

Cllr O’Brien added: “The Longfield centre was built 50 years ago and is no longer fit for purpose.

“Until now, we have been limited in what we can do because we do not own the site. Buying the centre removes that obstacle, and also gives us more influence on what is created there.

“This should ultimately deliver a much needed boost to the local economy with high quality commercial spaces for independent businesses, a new library, community space and public service hub, and excellent outdoor space and public realm. We also think we can deliver some green housing and apartments on the site.

“It will also be a catalyst in helping Prestwich thrive post-Covid, and complement our ongoing plans to regenerate other town centres in Bury, Radcliffe and Ramsbottom.”

Phil Mayall, regional director at Muse Developments, said: “We’ve been working with our partners at Bury Council for a number of years to bring this to fruition and we’re delighted to reach this significant milestone.

“We’re looking forward to taking the next steps and engaging with both our partners and importantly the local community to bring these exciting proposals to life. Together, we’ll repurpose and re-energise this area of the village, drive inward investment into the local economy, create opportunities to benefit the community and create a long-lasting positive legacy.”

If approved by the cabinet, further work will be carried out in the coming months to finalise the sale and the joint venture arrangements, before consultation with the community takes place and planning applications submitted.