Plans for a major new development at Middlebrook retail park, which is home to Bolton Wanderers' Reebok Stadium, have received a mixed reception at a public consultation.
The club is looking to embark on a £100 million construction programme which will see the creation of the first Free School for a team outside of the Premier League while facilities will also be built to house 500 students. Wanderers are also planning to build a number of seven storey office blocks and sporting amenities will be upgraded, along with a potential expansion of the West Stand of the Reebok Stadium pending on-the-field success.
However, The Bolton News has reported that during a public consultation at the nearby Bolton Arena the 'Middlebrook Masterplan' faced criticism from residents who put their fears to the planners. Carol Butler, who lives in Meadows estate which is close to the retail park, told the news provider that the increase in people coming to Middlebrook could make congestion even more prominent around the area. Wanderers supporter, Mike Cubley was concerned of where the club would get the money from to complete the development.
Neil Goldsmith of NLP Planning Consultants told the newspaper: "The Masterplan has caused a lot of interest. There are questions that people are raising about how it's all going to work and whether the sports facilities will be available for local people to use, and these are the kind of questions you get for what is a major project."
Wanderers' debt problems have been well documented with a recent report showing that the club recorded a loss of £22.1 million in the past financial year. This pushed the Lancashire team's overall debt to £136.5 million. However, £125 million of the money is owed to owner Eddie Davies and has been refinanced into a long-term loan which has been described as a "huge vote of confidence" by chairman Phil Gartside.
Bolton are currently 17th place in the Championship following a 1-1 draw at home to Barnsley on Saturday (November 17th).
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