“A real hidden gem”: Why those in the know are investing in Farnworth

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Two of Farnworth’s historic assets have been completely rejuvenated by developer-investors who believe the town has enormous potential.

Business partners Andy Shaw and Paul Molyneux, of Bishops Rock Properties Ltd, have acquired and renovated both the former RBS bank and Job Centre, securing the future of both buildings for decades to come.

The two properties lie either end of King Street, flanking Capital&Centric’s ongoing Farnworth Green development on the demolished site of the old precinct building.

Capital&Centric’s work will see the brownfield site transformed into a new town centre neighbourhood with family homes alongside community facilities and spaces for independent businesses.

The scheme is backed by £13.3m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which is also supporting an expansion to the leisure centre and public realm improvements to Market Street.

Nearby, the new Bolton College of Medical Sciences is being developed at Royal Bolton Hospital thanks to £20m from the Levelling Up Fund.

Andy and Paul believe all these major developments mean there has never been a better time for others to invest in Farnworth, and they are committed for the long-term.

Rather than buying and quickly flipping their properties, both the RBS and Job Centre buildings have been sympathetically restored by local craftsmen supervised by AGB Build Ltd to preserve period features.

From original stonework and bespoke wooden floors, to the latest security and under-floor heating, the two facilities now offer desirable office space alongside other exciting business opportunities.

Andy said: “We both really believe in Farnworth, it is one of the hidden gems that Bolton has to offer, thanks in part to excellent parking and transport links.

“But there is also a plethora of buildings that are still rich in period features, Farnworth has a soul and is a real alternative to the concrete jungles that many town centres have become.

“Without our intervention the future of these two buildings would have been very uncertain and two really important legacies of the glory days of Farnworth would have been lost.

“By doing what we’ve done, we are hoping to add another 100 years to the lives of these buildings.”

Banking on Farnworth

But the duo are not just interested in bricks and mortar, they are also investing in local people and backing the kind of businesses which will bring footfall into the town.

After stripping it back to the brick, the old RBS building is now being reimagined.

The upper floors have been transformed into modern office spaces, while the bank’s vault is being converted into a safe deposit box service – Britannia Safe Deposit.

The safe deposit scheme will be one of very few outside of the UK’s major cities and will offer the highest industry standards for security.

Andy and Paul believe that by offering something different, it will attract people into Farnworth from further afield.

Britannia Safe Deposit is being managed by Carol Morris a former manager of the RBS.

As manager, it was Carol’s job to close up the bank on its final day of operation, and she is now playing a vital role as the building opens back up to customers.

Investing in people

A short walk down to 99 King Street, the ground floor of the former job centre is now home to a very different kind of business.

Lilly’s Little Gems Nursery aims to provide a safe nurturing and enabling environment for children to grow and develop to the best of their abilities.

For Babies, toddlers and preschool age children, Lilly’s encourages children to learn through creative play to be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

Owner Julie approached Andy and Paul shortly after they bought the former Job Centre and enquired about renting space for a nursery.

After looking at the proposals, the pair concluded that the area would benefit from a new childcare provider and decided to cover the cost of installing additional facilities.

Paul said: “We saw it as a long-term investment in Julie and in the kind of business that Farnworth needed.

“We see ourselves as good landlords, we want to rent our buildings to people and businesses that will bring more people into Farnworth and raise its profile.

“Having a first-class nursery will make people want to live and work here, and by creating something like the Britannia Safe Deposit Centre we are challenging preconceptions of Farnworth.

“Farnworth has been in the shadow of Bolton, but it has had amazing potential and vibrancy right from the very earliest days.

“I’m from Bolton and I remember my parents coming to Farnworth for the vibrant shops and market, many people overlook it now.

“But Farnworth is a place that produced an Olympian and it now has such great potential to punch above its weight.”

Throughout the process Paul and Andy have received advice and guidance from Business Bolton, the council’s business support service, and the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub.

The hub will continue to support the business, and the tenants of the two buildings, to grow and thrive.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Adele Warren, is a former employee of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Farnworth.

She said: “It is wonderful to see these two buildings brought back into use for the community and once again bringing money into the local economy.

“Andy and Paul have done an outstanding job and their work is a great example of the positive impact investors can have when they put the local community first.

“This is an exciting time for the town I would urge anyone interested in investing and in playing part in Farnworth’s future to get in touch to find out more.”

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