THERE is new hope today that Wigan’s eyesore old town hall could be redeveloped.
Owners of the Grade Two Listed site, at the heart of the town centre, have won planning permission for adjoining land to become a temporary private car park to pay for fencing works to make it secure.
And an agent representing the owners told development councillors today that she was also now increasingly confident that the planning impasse which has seen the building fall into a state of shocking dereliction and fire damage may soon be broken.
And she praised the new council’s planning boss for being at the heart of a “new spirit of co-operation.”
However, her bid for a five-year consent for the car park was blocked by members who preferred a two-year option.
Jayne Bradbury, on behalf of Lancashire based CA Planning, told the committee that the owners had already invested more than £1m in the site.
And the only way for the council and private capital to see the old town hall brought back into productive use was for planning bosses to work alongside them to produce a viable scheme and help make it move forward.
She said: “The council’s service director for development Steve Normington and his team are now working actively with us to find a developer that can bring about the change we all want to see.
“The market is pretty dreadful at the moment but we feel increasingly confident that things are now moving in the right direction at last.
“We have an option to buy back the building and we are happy to work with investors to find a solution.”
The private car park will have 111 spaces - plus seven disabled spaces - with two pay and display machines, covered by CCTV.
But Coun Paul Liptrot said: “This site is in atrocious condition on such a prominent through route for the town.
“We should be looking to present Wigan in an acceptable state rather than a junk site halfway through development.”
Coun Jeanette Prescott said: “Let’s face it, anything is better than what we have there now.
“I just hope that when things look a bit better economically there might be somebody out there who comes along with some money left to spend on it.”