Armed forces hub plan for mill site

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Plans for a new centre for the borough’s armed forces have been unveiled following a huge cash grant.

The facility, 4 Our Forces, has received another £400,000 and is likely to be built on the land next to Trencherfield Mill, the town hall has revealed.

The scheme is a collaborative project between the council and Wigan Sea Cadets and will be a facility for the local and regional cadets to meet.

It will also serve as a central point for armed forces families to access a range of services including advice about housing and employment, education, health and well-being support.

The council has already committed £500,000 but the project has now received an extra £400,000 from the Ministry of Defence to go towards the build and services, including an outreach vehicle, which will be deployed across the borough.

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council said: “4 Our Forces will be a fantastic resource for Wigan and there will be services benefitting everybody from mental health advice to a café for the public to enjoy.

“In addition, this ideal site will also help to lift the Wigan Pier Quarter and kick-start the regeneration process that we believe will increase the borough’s profile as a place to invest, live, work and visit.

“By offering a specialised service to this community of residents, we hope to ensure that everybody is given all of the support they need as finding this support isn’t always as straight forward for armed forces families.”

Steps are now being taken to discuss the look of the building, with a poppy flower currently an idea for the architectural theme. Other aspects of the building are also being discussed with both armed forces personnel and the wider community, including a design and layout that would be sympathetic to those with particular needs.

More than 20 existing sites from privately owned land and buildings and council owned property were initially considered for the site which were narrowed down to 12. But all sites were eventually dismissed due to cost effectiveness, footfall, location and other factors, meaning the land next to Trencherfield Mill proved a firm favourite.

Linda Fisher, assistant director and lead officer for the armed forces at Wigan Council, said: “There’s a huge armed forces community in Wigan, so there’s a strong demand for these specialist services and Wigan Council is passionate about supporting our armed forces families.

“We have been working hard in submitting our funding applications and are delighted that we have received support from the Ministry of Defence. By building this vital resource in the Wigan Pier Quarter, the project will benefit from a central location, travel and parking.”