Spectacular aerial views of doomed Wigan shopping centre
An eye in the sky affords Wiganers a fascinatingly different view of their familiar town centre – before parts of it begin to change forever.
Over the coming weeks hoardings will be erected around the perimeter of the Galleries shopping centre as demolition work gets under way.
They will contain graphics and artwork about the £135m redevelopment of the site into a new complex focusing on leisure, hospitality and accommodation as well as retail; and will also shield passers-by as the heavy-duty razing of the mall begins.
Soon the landscape will dramatically change, but reader Brian King’s drone camera gives Wiganers a rare chance to see the Galleries, only completed in the early 1990s, from a different perspective and before they disappear for good.
The centre had long struggled to fill its units, especially after the Grand Arcade opened and then recession hit, and matters were only compounded by the gradual decline of the high street nationally.
And so now it is back to the drawing board with a project involving developers Cityheart and BCEGI that sees retail space reduced to make way for a “multi-media centre” with a six-screen cinema, music and E-sports venue, 10-lane bowling alley and mini-golf as well as more food and drink outlets and evening entertainment space.
A new hotel and 464 homes would also be built within the 440,000ft sq site.
And a new market hall with a “contemporary” foodhall, co-working space and small offices, would be created alongside a “re-animated” Makinson Arcade.
It had been expected that the demolition would take place earlier this year, but all the documents have now been signed and work is already under way internally.
A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “The Galleries redevelopment project has now reached the delivery phase of the programme, which is very exciting for Wigan.
"Over the next few weeks hoarding will be installed around the perimeter of the site helping to create a secure and safe space for construction works, while providing wayfinding information for visitors and an insight into the exciting plans.
“This £135m scheme will transform the town centre, bringing new opportunities to create a vibrant and revitalised place for the benefit of the borough, the town, our businesses and residents.”
The town hall says that works are continuing to progress internally at the Galleries site.
The full perimeter site hoarding will be one of the first large-scale visible signs of work on site that the public will see, creating the required secure working zone for heavy works inside the site.
The hoarding will begin to be installed the week beginning September 20 and are expected to take between four and six weeks to complete.
A spokesperson said that the graphics and artwork on the hoarding will “create an attractive border to the site providing extensive areas of eye-catching signage and wayfinding to Wigan Market Hall and Makinson Arcade, both of which will remain open and trading during the works.”
The works on the inside of the Galleries are concentrating initially on the old Marketgate Shopping Centre, which is to be the location of the New Market hall anticipated to be open in 2024.