Plans have been unveiled for Wigan’s first major events venue.
Modelled on The Boiler Shop in Newcastle and Altrincham Market, the “multifunctional leisure space” would be able to accommodate everything from band gigs to food and drink festivals. And, as the intention is to redevelop the former Monks Car Sales on Pottery Road, it could form part of the Wigan Pier cultural renaissance.
The plan is the brainchild of All Gates Brewery boss David Mayhall who already has the Anvil pub on Hallgate as a outlet for his beers but is now looking for something more ambitious.
Council planners are currently considering the practicalities and legalities of the blueprint which would be just across the road from the new Today’s Community Church performance venue on Southgate.
After Monks’s vacated the site to go to Haig Street, Mr Mayhall bought the red brick building and adjoining yard.
Tom Smith from Appley Bridge-based Peter Dickinson Architects is handling the design.
We are calling it a multi-functional leisure space which will include facilities for social and arts events, complete with a cafe and a bar.Tom Smith
He said: “This would be something new for the Wigan area. We are calling it a multi-functional leisure space which will include facilities for social and arts events, complete with a cafe and a bar.
“There are various models for this including the Boiler Shop in Newcastle and Campfield Market Hall in Manchester.
“It would be open regularly several times a week and also host one-off events such as food and drink festivals and the occasional band. There would be space for food vans to come and park up too so there is a closed space and open space as well.”
Mr Smith said that there would sometimes be music but any performances would not be going on late.
The site is very close to the site of the old Wigan Pier nightclub whose demise was hastened by complaints from residents of the new flats createde at nearby Trencherfield Mill about noise in the early hours.
Mr Smith said that licensing hours would be “sensitive” to residents feelings with the bar closing at 10pm during the week and 11pm at weekends.
The application, put in by All Gates subsidiary Rosy Pelican, gives new hope for a revival in the fortunes of the Pier complex.
Back in the 1980s and ’90s, The Way We Were Museum, Trencherfield Mill and Opie Museum of Memories became the second biggest tourist attraction in the North West after Blackpool pleasure beach after the inspired revamping of a somewhat insalubrious area of Wigan.
But a hoped-for public concert hall failed to materialise, the museums closed along with the Orwell pub which only enjoyed a brief comeback as a comedy club venue before shutting again.
But in the last couple of years there have been renewed efforts to make the Pier somewhere to visit again.
After the nightclub was demolished, a small garden was created and there are still plans afoot to create a canal marina nearby. Details of the church concert hall are still perplexingly under wraps despite a huge monolith appearing at the roadside and now the events venue, subject to planning permission’s being granted, could further enliven the area.
Mr Smith said; “We think that this venture could help to enliven the Pier quarter and it would be great if it encouraged other, complementary businesses to follow suit.”
The 440m sq premises on Pottery Road would be modified to incorporate the bar and cafe, create a storage area and a mezzanine floor. There would also be an outside seating area.
Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “While this application has to go through the formal planning process it is very exciting to see businesses seeing the huge potential at Wigan Pier Quarter.
“Our vision of the regeneration of Wigan Pier Quarter as a mixed use business, leisure and cultural destination is gaining significant momentum with the new Pier Centre performance centre and continued developer interest in the Wigan Pier buildings so it is extremely encouraging to see innovative and creative plans such as this.
“We look forward to seeing how this plan progresses.”