“It’s very difficult for us to engage with the tenants of the properties in terms of what we are going to do if the properties are going to be acquired.

“If you want to criticise it, be my guest, but I don’t think there’s an alternative way to do this.

A council spokesman said: “Our ambition is for Bolton to be at the heart of the digital economy and become a centre of innovation.

“We must stress that talks are at an early stage with property owners and there is a long process to go through before any decisions are made.

“Once a development partner has been secured and plans have been developed for the area in question, we will work in partnership with all affected businesses as things progress.

“Now we have received approval from Cabinet, our priority will be to draw up detailed proposals and attract a private sector developer to bring the scheme forward.”