Work to start on £1m redesign

The final design for town centre plans

The final design for town centre plans

Construction work for Wigan town centre’s £1.3m transformation of Market Place is set to start next month, council bosses have said.

Final designs for the project were unveiled in January and planned to create a “stunning, modern urban plaza” to stage large events.

The long awaited development has been beset by delays since first announced in 2014 as council bosses assessed whether the scheme made financial sense.

Specific dates for the works will be announced in the coming weeks.

Emma Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for economy and regeneration, said: “We are pleased that work to transform Market Square is set to begin next month.

“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.

“We will keep all businesses and the public informed with the exact start date and full details of the project in the coming weeks.”

The design - the brainchild of sculptor Chris Brammall - highlights the historic tramlines that once ran through the heart of the town and will feature a number of striking beacons.

Council bosses have handed a month long rent free period to market traders to compensate them for the disruption in the town centre with the construction work set to take five months.

Work to redevelop the town’s bus station is also set to start later this year.

Earlier this year, deputy council leader Coun David Molyneux told the Observer: “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 new Market Place will deliver a much improved environment for visitors and businesses and as a place for events and leisure activities.”

The designs failed to capture the imagination of some residents, though.

Mary Lloyd posted on Facebook: “Who designed this? Ask for the money back and spend it on something useful. It’s just another large, barren, visually unattractive open area.”