£60m Galleries plan set to be given approval

The �60m masterplan for The Galleries includes a cinema and leisure complex
The �60m masterplan for The Galleries includes a cinema and leisure complex

A MULTI-MILLION pound plan to revamp an ailing Wigan town centre shopping complex is set to be given the green light.

Council planning officials meet next week and are expected to approve the £60m proposal to transform The Galleries into a leisure and retail hub.

Although planning documents seen by the Evening Post reveal the brains behind a rival project have spoken out in opposition.

Bosses at the Grand Arcade have submitted a letter of objection which argues any new facilities “would be best secured through the extension” of their own shopping centre.

While more than 110 further opposition letters have been received relating to concerns around the relocation of the market hall.

Despite this, the report recommends the committee should approve the plans as they “represent a very significant and vitally important private investment...which will specifically address the decline and high level of vacant units” at The Galleries.

It adds: “This development is an exciting opportunity for the town centre to enhance its reputation of being a vibrant place to live and work...and help further develop the night-time economy.”

Developers for The Galleries masterplan, Vale Retail, announced their ambitious plans last year which would create a “Makinson Quarter” incorporating a new cinema and restaurant complex.

But the Grand Arcade unveiled their rival plan last week triggering concerns that the opposing proposals will result in a bidding war.

The planning report states the “grounds of objection indicate ...there is no need for relocation and the existing market hall should be retained and upgraded; the proposed hall will be poorly accessed and serviced, it is a secondary location jeopardising existing customer base and businesses; it is not a purpose built facility, which is too small, lacks natural light, inadequate ceiling height with too many structural pillars and will be un-welcoming customer and working environment.”

Vale Retail has been in discussions with market traders since the plans were unveiled and have maintained the market remains “key to the town’s transformation.”

Vale’s Adrian Oliver told the Evening Post: “By returning to Market Street, the markets will be in a much busier location with a 55m long, double storey, glazed entrance to the indoor market hall at street level opposite the bus station.

“Another entrance will be through the Makinson Arcade.”