Green light given to town’s first Nando’s

Robin Park

Robin Park

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Planning approval has been granted to a major hotel and retail development set to hand a boost to Wigan’s Robin Park retail area.

The green light means the town is a step closer to getting its first Nando’s outlet as the popular chain is understood to be in line to take over one of two restaurant spaces.

Bella Italia has been earmarked for the other, both located on the ground floor of the three storey building which will house a 68-room hotel.

The development includes a face-lift for the Empire Cinema and will provide dozens of jobs worth an estimated £822,000 to the local economy in terms of wages each year, planning documents reveal.

Officers granted permission earlier this month following a delay as developers tweaked the plans which will see parking provision for the cinema switched to the rear of the building. The restaurants will have operating hours between 8am and midnight.

While residents in the Leigh end of the borough have enjoyed having their own Nando’s for several years, Wigan’s first location has been subject to considerable speculation with the nearby site of the now closed-down Sharpy’s restaurant thought to have been an option.

Robin Park will therefore be home to outlets of KFC, Burger King, a Subway, Pizza Hut and Nando’s with a McDonald’s just across the Saddle Junction.

The development will reduce the number of parking spaces at the front of the cinema from 116 to 62, with a further 21 reserved for the hotel.

This will be offset by parking to the rear of the cinema being increased from 51 to 81 although Evening Post readers have expressed concerns about the changes.

Dalila Garcia commented on Wigan Today: “Whilst I think this in principle is a good thing, I am concerned at the reduction of parking. I go to the cinema every Tuesday night and have to park way across the road.”

Town hall documents do not reveal which hotel operator the site is earmarked for but state it will be a “national multiple, budget hotel operator”. Posting on Wigan Today’s Facebook page, Jackie Farrell said: “So there will be 34 fewer car parking spaces overall and two restaurants plus a hotel, where is everyone going to park?”

Nicky Woods posted: “It’s a great idea to produce more restaurants, it’s in a good location for the football, rugby and the cinema. However a hotel is not a good idea.”

It is the second development on Robin Park granted approval this year with the former Kudos nightclub set to be transformed into a JD Gym.