Mill expansion plans set to create 200 jobs

Ena Mill  owner Simon Yates
Ena Mill owner Simon Yates

Proposals to expand a retail complex and create 200 new jobs are a step closer to becoming a reality.

A planning application has been submitted to create new shops, a restaurant, function room and apartments at Ena Mill in Atherton.

The ground floor of the grade II-listed building currently houses speciality traders and a cafe, but the rest of the building is largely empty.

Joint owner Simon Yates said: “Every floor in the mill will be brought back to life in some way, whether it will be leisure, retail or residential.”

Retail use would be extended to the first floor.

Storage space would be provided on the second floor and the third and fourth floors could become apartments.

The boiler house on the site could become a restaurant and the engine house would be a venue for events and community use.

Mr Yates said: “We employ about 75 people on the site at the moment and we will be looking at another 200 added on.”

A report submitted with the planning application states: “The centre attracts some 200,000 visitors per annum and now attracts coach parties including from as far away as Darlington.

“This success now leads the operators to conclude that there is a need to expand the operations to provide additional space to meet demands from existing traders, from new operators and to improve the way in which the centre currently operates.”

“Preferred retail options” include specialist food retailing, extra cafe space, the expansion of existing operators, antiques and collectibles, an “indoor market type” operation and large specialist retailers such as a book store.

The report says there could be the opportunity for leisure uses, such as a children’s play area, laser quest or a gym.

And there are plans to attract more people to the site for leisure purposes, with a function room which could be used for many purposes.

The report states: “An operator who has viewed the building is very interested in taking the engine house/boiler house (and with it the chimney) as a venue for music/theatre/arts associated with the delivery of services for the elderly and isolated adults.”

The number of car parking spaces would be increased and former tennis courts on Flapper Fold Lane could be used as an overflow car park.

A consultation on the plans is currently underway and Wigan Council expects to make a decision by September.

It is hoped the new facilities will be ready by September next year.