Plans for transformation of Wigan town centre set for approval

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A plan that will set the foundations for a major redevelopment of Wigan town centre is set to be approved by council bosses this week.

Wigan Council’s cabinet are set to support the ‘Strategic Regeneration Framework’ when it meets on Thursday.

The framework is a long-term plan for the town detailing how a new varied offer including residential, office, leisure and retail sectors, can be delivered while identifying opportunities that can be achieved in the short-term to attract investment.

Key projects in the short-term include the creation of small business hubs as start-up space for the digital, technology, arts and culture sectors and the redevelopment of the Galleries and Market Hall, which the council acquired last year to drive forward redevelopment, which will include relocating the market to a more central position.

Other plans include:

·       Defining the opportunity linked to Wigan rail stations as a gateway to high speed rail
·       A car parking strategy identifying if supply meets demand
·       Linking the Wigan Pier Quarter redevelopment, which will start this year, with the town centre.

Cllr David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “The success of our town centres is a vital issue for our residents and the borough as a whole and their future viability is one of the highest economic priorities at the council.

“We recently conducted our Big Listening Project to hear the ideas of our residents for the future and town centres were the most popular issue for comments and discussion.

“Like many towns across the country Wigan has been affected as people choose to spend money online rather than at high street stores.

“This plan is an important step in defining a new future for Wigan town centre.

“It is a blueprint for our aspirations but also an honest assessment of what we need to do to get there. There is currently an oversupply of retail space and the council needs to act to develop a new offers to attract visitors such as culture, leisure, employment and residential uses.”

He added: “It is clear the Wigan town centre of the future will be a very different place to what it is now and this plan will enable that diverse offer to be delivered.

“We are fortunate to be in a strong position to seize these opportunities.

“With HS2 coming to Wigan, new link roads being built to make journeys to the town centre faster and easier and exciting plans coming forward for the Galleries, I believe we are at the start of something very  special for Wigan town centre.”

Wigan is the largest town in the borough for shopping, services and employment with more than 120,000 square metres of retail floorspace, 300,000 visitors a week and it supports 10,000 jobs.
There are 645,000 people living within 20 minutes drive of Wigan town centre.

In order to create the plan the council has been helped by specialists in urban planning and design from Deloitte and Gleave 23.

Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte said “The SRF resets the strategy for the redevelopment of Wigan town centre.

“A number of interventions have been proposed as part of the new strategy which aim to bring new energy and vitality to the town centre through diversification of its offer and attracting people of all ages into the town so it becomes a true place to live, work and play.

“The foundations can be put in place to create a distinctive town, a place that starts to respond to the changing role of the high street and ultimately one that Wigan residents can be proud of.”

The council with its partners will now undertake detailed development strategy for each of the plan’s priorities.

Detailed plans of the Galleries redevelopment will be unveiled later in the year.