The final design for the £1.3m revamp of Market Place has been revealed this week and Wiganers have been having their say.
The delayed project will be finished by this year’s festive season, council bosses have said, and will allow the town centre to host large scale events.
While there will be short-term disruption during the works there will be long-term benefits for everyoneCoun David Molyneux
Four beacons - harking back to the former tramway routes through the town - are the most striking aspect of the final design.
And the town hall hopes the installations, thought-up by sculptor Chris Brammall, will create a “unique atmosphere” when they light-up after dark.
However, concerned residents posting on the Wigan Today Facebook page have said redeveloping The Galleries should be made a priority.
The Evening Post has reported in recent weeks that the new owners of the shopping centre are yet to reveal their plans for the site although council officers have said meetings have taken place to discuss options.
Mary Lloyd said: “Who designed this? Ask for the money back and spend it on something useful. It’s just another large, barren, visually unattractive open area to get strewn with litter surrounded by closed down shops and shopping arcades.
“How’s this going to entice people into Wigan?”
Residents also expressed their concern in relation to the cost of the project given that the town hall is proposing to move to a three-week bin collection rota.
But council bosses have previously stressed capital spending on long-term projects such as this will reap rewards in the future.
Linzi Stirrup posted: “Doesn’t particularly look much different to how it is now. Seems like a lot of money for not very much.”
Stuart Tagg posted: “Funny, the council try to regenerate the town centre and people moan. They can’t win.”
Deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “Wigan Council is committed to supporting the continued vitality of the town centres which is why we have invested over £2m in improving both Leigh and Wigan town centres this year.
“The new Market Place in Wigan will deliver a much improved environment for visitors and businesses and as a place for events and leisure activities.”
Market traders have been offered rent-free months in the early part of 2017 with the council warning the town centre will see periods of disruption with both Market Place and the bus station redeveloped this year.
Coun Molyneux added: “While there will be short-term disruption during the works there will be long-term benefits for everyone.
“Having the works take place at the same time will minimise on-going disruption and enable town centre events to take place later in the year.
“The works will also be planned to ensure that the town centres remain safe places for visitors and viable for businesses.”
Sculptor Chris Brammall has designed the four beacons that will reflect the former tramway stanchions that once stood in the town centre.
Mr Brammall said: “It’s an honour to be commissioned to work on this major project for Wigan town centre.
“Wigan has such a rich history and it was vital to bring that into the design and celebrate the tramways that transported people to the town centre and through Market Place a century ago.” Landscape architects for the Market Place project, Re-form, are also completing a major landscaping scheme in Hull City Centre as part of their 2017 City of Culture celebrations, the town hall has said.