D-Day looms for Pier blueprints

Wigan Pier
Wigan Pier

Council chiefs are poised to announce who have won the contest to redevelop some of the borough’s most iconic yet unused buildings - and what they plan to do with them.

Last year the local authority sought bids to develop three Wigan Pier buildings which stand on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and include The Warehouse, known locally as the former Way We Were Museum, The Orwell former public house, and the Education Centre.

The buildings are central to the Wigan Pier Quarter regeneration area and have attracted attention from across the region as a destination for investment and new industries on a memorable waterside setting.

The tendering process attracted a significant amount of interest from developers in the buildings with leisure, hotel, commercial, residential and creative uses being put forward.

In fact the council later extended the process to allow more detail to be put to proposals.

Now town hall bosses say they have chosen which firm or firms will take forward their projects, although they are currently keeping their cards close to their chests.

Coun David Molyneux, the authority’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We received some excellent and varied bids from developers who have experience in regenerating buildings of this kind both regionally and nationally.

“We have decided which bidders we would like to progress with and will be in a position to make an announcement early in the new year.”

The tender process has been overseen by the council in partnership with commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton and the Canal and River Trust.

Back in the late 1980s and ’90s Wigan Pier was the second most visited tourist attraction in the North West after Blackpool pleasure beach. But visitor figures fell, especially after so many new attractions were funded and created around the region at the turn of the millennium and eventually it closed. All that survives of the original visitor features is the famous steam wheel.

For a short while the Orwell hosted comedy club nights and there was a campaign to turn The Way We Were into a rugby league museum which came to nought.