Councillors approve plans for Bolton College of Medical Sciences

Plans for Bolton College of Medical Sciences

Bolton councillors have today (June 23) granted planning permission for the updated plans for the Bolton College of Medical Sciences (BCMS).

It gives the green light for construction works to start on the development at the Royal Bolton Hospital site in Farnworth.

BCMS – a vocational and professional skills and training facility – is due to open in 2024 and is expected to transform how NHS workforces are trained in the UK, alleviate healthcare staffing pressures in Greater Manchester, and provide improved levels of care to the local community.

The planning committee’s decision to give the go-ahead follows the submission of an amended planning application to Bolton Council in March 2022.

The revised plan proposed to replace the multi-storey cark park included in the original design – which was approved by the planning committee in June 2019 – with surface level parking. Apart from that, the amended application proposed no other changes to the pre-approved plans.

Today’s decision means that both BCMS and the wider Royal Bolton Hospital site will not only benefit from a state-of-the-art training facility – comprised of a teaching and learning space, a café, and a staff and service space – but also from increased parking provision, with an additional 250 car parking spaces being created on top of existing on-site hospital parking.

Additional car parking will be provided from the outset and at every stage of the development, including to cater for spaces which are displaced when construction work begins on BCMS – which is being built on the site of an existing surface car park within the Royal Bolton Hospital campus.

BCMS is a collaborative project between the University of Bolton, Bolton College, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton Council and is understood to be the first development of its kind in the UK. It will give people a direct route into health and social care employment, and provide unrivalled training opportunities for new and existing staff by focusing on practical skills-based learning in a live hospital environment.

Over its lifetime, it will contribute £150m to the local economy and create up to 20,000 jobs and apprenticeships.

The first intake of students will start in September 2024.

BCMS project director, Mark O’Reilly, said: “Today’s result is a major win for the Bolton community as it unlocks the construction of a facility that will bring countless healthcare and occupational benefits to the area, including better job prospects, opportunities for existing healthcare staff to upskill, and an overall £150m boost to the local economy.

“Its impact will also be felt beyond our town – we expect BCMS to become a blueprint for other NHS trusts nationwide and transform how NHS workforces are recruited and trained across the country. Bolton will lead by example on how the UK can address the NHS staffing crisis and attract more people to healthcare professions.”

Prof George E Holmes, president and vice chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: “This is game-changing news for Bolton.”