Fears over new plan

Eiffel Steel Works, Wigan Enterprise Park, Ince
Eiffel Steel Works, Wigan Enterprise Park, Ince

BUSINESSES in Wigan fear they may be thrown out of their units following proposals for a new industrial park.

Regeneration specialist St Modwen has launched a consultation to decide the future of Wigan Enterprise Park, in Ince – home of Joy Mining, which was previously international pit machinery export giant Gullick Dobson.

The firm, which now only has a small research and development presence at the Seaman Way base, has declined to comment on its future at the site, but other companies on the location are anxious they will be forced out if there is not enough new space created,

Although still in its early stages, the suggested proposals include a mix of family housing, neighbourhood shops and new employment units, as well as new public open space and pedestrian and cycle links with the surrounding community.

There are three options on the table, all with varying degrees of housing, industrial units and shops.

Glenn Mawdesley, MD of Eiffel Steel Works Ltd, said: “St Modwen plans to get rid of everyone, which will mean wide-scale job losses.

“This is supposed to be a protected employment zone to safeguard jobs. It is a disgrace.

“The landlord – St Modwen – is now activating the ‘break clause’ in our tenancy agreements, saying it is not economically viable as an industrial site and claim a change of use.

“People don’t want to leave. We cannot afford to relocate. We have just spent £0.5m to set up here. Wigan does not need any more housing, but it does need jobs.

“We need to nip this in the bud before a planning application goes in.

“Once the sites are closed, jobs will be lost.

“St Modwen will be building industrial units on the other side, but when you look at what is being lost, compared to what is being built, it is shocking.

“In this economy to shut an existing business that is making money and provide local jobs to provide houses is terrible.”

Michael Rodgers, MD of Hi Q Fabrications Limited, was also concerned about losing his business.

He said: “If St Modwen’s proposals go ahead there will be jobs at risk and 50 per cent of our workforce live local. There is a lack of industrial units suitable to our industry left in the Wigan area.”

Other businesses on the site include Hitchen Foods, Nu-View and Global Campers,

Coun David Molyneux, ward councillor and cabinet member for economic regeneration, said; “We will help the businesses in any way we can, but it may be too premature to say anything, as it is a consultation.

“As far as we are concerned, we will do what we can to retain the jobs already on that site.”

A spokesman for St Modwen said plans were only in the very early stage, but they were discussing the ideas with existing tenants on an individual basis,

She could not confirm that there would be enough space for all businesses until the planners had decided which option would be put forward.

Michelle Taylor, North West director, said: “Unfortunately a lot of the existing units had come to the end of their life and were lying vacant as they became less popular. As a result it has become necessary to demolish them. The area will be split into two and won’t be demolished at the same time, so we are looking at different time scales.

“What we are doing now is, sitting down with each tenant and working out what is best for them individually.

“We will be discussing what their business requirements are, in terms or locations and space. Some may have reasons they want to relocate elsewhere, other may wish to remain.

“We may have new units which suit them, or our properties may not be viable for them. This may also be an opportunity for businesses who may have a long lease to get out and relocate.

“It will be easier to identify what will happen when we have had discussions with the tenants. Understandably, there are some concerns but we are very keen to emphasise that the whole process is still at the consultative stage and nothing has been decided or confirmed.”

RIGHT: Glen Mawdesley managing director of Eiffel Steel Works, Wigan Enterprise Park