Wigan Galleries masterplan: 10 things we know so far

It's all systems go for the Galleries 25 project after Wigan planners approved a huge redevelopment of the town centre.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:04 pm
An aerial view of Wigan Market several years ago

Here are 10 things we already know about the scheme:

The £190m masterplan is born from a near unanimous recognition that something needs to be done to breathe new life into Wigan town centre and that The Galleries as it is at the moment is not working.

There have been several other major projects tabled over the years aimed at galvanising the town but they have fallen by the wayside.

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This is the biggest town centre project for Wigan since the original Galleries was built in the late 1980s - bigger even than the Grand Arcade’s development 15 years ago.

Wigan Council bought the Galleries from private owners in 2018 for £8m, mainly using cash from its Manchester Airport dividend, exasperated that nothing was being done to attract new businesses.

In February 2020 it was announced that three major developers were bidding to go into partnership with Wigan Council and it was Cityheart with Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI).

Concerns have been raised about the local authority’s teaming up with a company backed by a Chinese government with a bad civil rights record, particularly in relation to its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, although Wigan MP and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy says she received assurances that the company has no links to the Xinjiang province where atrocities have been carried out.

Market traders are also unhappy that their new facilities will be smaller than the present ones while there have also been criticisms that the new development will not blend into the rest of the townscape as well as the current Galleries’ architecture has.

Demolition work could begin within weeks and, once completed, Galleries 25 would comprise a new modern market hall with stalls, shops and office space alongside apartment blocks, food and drink outlets and entertainment venues. There would also be a hotel, 464 homes and a multimedia centre with a cinema, 10-lane bowling alley and indoor mini-golf.

It is hoped that the project will be finished by 2025.

Galleries 25 complements other redevelopments of the town centre, not least the current upgrade of Wallgate and the relaunch of the Wigan Pier buildings as hospitality venues next year.

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