Transformation of Wigan Pier into leisure destination takes major step forward
Plans to transform one of Wigan's best-known landmarks into a major leisure destination have moved a massive step closer.
Culture hub The Old Courts will be the main tenant of the regenerated Wigan Pier site once it has been turned into a modern facility by Step Places in partnership with the Canal and River Trust, Wigan Council has announced.
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The authorities hope the plans to transform the 18th century industrial buildings into a mixed-use leisure destination will be a catalyst for wider development in the area.The three former industrial buildings on the Pier which will be transformed include The Warehouse, The Orwell public house and the education centre.
The warehouse and education centre were previously part of award-winning living history tourist attraction The Way We Were.
A massive sign announcing the next step of the regeneration appeared on the side of the former watering hole, originally a warehouse built in 1777, this week.Harry Dhaliwal, Managing Director of Step Places, said: “Wigan Pier was one of the most iconic destinations in the north in its time and we are honoured to be so intrinsic in its future.
"We are working to create a place to be proud of; a new part of the town centre where people want to live and has the impressive cultural and leisure activities that both residents and visitors can enjoy.“Having secured The Old Courts as the main operator we are confident we have the right team in place to do just that and we are looking forward to sharing our plans for Wigan Pier’s prosperous next chapter”.Step Places is due to submit a planning application to the town hall in the coming weeks outlining plans in more detail, including timescales for the Pier project. Coun David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “We have had long-held ambitions to create a new purpose for Wigan Pier as a destination and leisure attraction.“Step Places’ vision for the Pier was from the outset extremely impressive and fulfilled everything that we hoped Wigan Pier would become.
“It is fantastic that they have agreed a partnership with The Old Courts, who have an extremely well respected and diverse cultural offering within the town centre. Their passion for creativity will be a welcome addition to this project and we look forward to watching this come to life.“We will support Step Places and The Old Courts throughout the process and look forward to Wigan Pier becoming a popular destination for people in the borough and beyond once again.”Speaking about the partnership, Dave Jenkins, Managing Director from The Old Courts said: “Wigan Pier is undoubtedly known virtually everywhere you go, so we’re excited to be involved in a project we think will add huge value to the town. “In recent years, there has been a definite cultural surge in Wigan with the opening of various venues, bars and eateries and it feels like Wigan is now becoming a credible destination. “We’re confident that the reinvention of The Pier Quarter will see an increase in visitor numbers from outside the town which, in turn, should benefit everyone contributing to the rise in culture, not just our organisation.
"The Pier project will form part of our organisational expansion and our existing premises on Crawford Street will of course remain. There are exciting times ahead in Wigan and we’re proud to be part of it.”
The wider Wigan Pier Quarter has undergone a renaissance in recent years with the development of the Pier Centre conference centre and performance venue.Wigan Pier was originally a coal loading jetty where wagons would unload coal on to canal barges. The historic site sits on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in central Wigan.Ian Sprott, from the Canal abd River Trust, said: “Wigan Pier is an important part of the history of Wigan and the wider region.“The Canal and River Trust is proud to have been a partner in securing a new future for the Wigan Pier Quarter and we are excited by the developer’s vision for the area.” The Pier became famous through a music hall joke by George Formby Snr and through its appearance in the title of George Orwell’s graphic description of the plight of the English working class in the early 20th century ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.In 2014 Wigan Council announced the start of a 10-year regeneration programme to create a 'New Road to Wigan Pier'.For more information visit: www.wigan-pier.com