Hidden void under Wigan bakery causes problems for town centre regeneration plan

The hidden void was not former toilets
The hidden void was not former toilets

An unknown void underneath a Wigan bakery caused extra work – and possibly costs – for a town centre regeneration plan.

The council’s £510k makeover of Market Place was nearing completion when the cellar space was discovered under a shop front.

Bosses feared the void could pose a safety risk and contractors have now finished repairs to shore up the space.

The town hall ruled out some suggestions that the void was in fact the former underground toilets on Marlet Place which have been closed for years but said the ‘unavoidable’ works may mean it incurs extra costs and discussions are underway with North Midland Construction (nmcn).

Becca Heron, director of economy and skills, said: “Works like this are not uncommon with projects of this scale and we appreciate nmcn’s prompt actions in ensuring that the additional repairs were completed as quickly as possible to address the issue and minimise disruption.”

A council decision notice – which outlines that the contract for the scheme will need to be amended – says the ‘unknown cellar void’ was discovered outside the frontage of the town centre’s Pound Bakery shop.

It adds: “Without remedy there is a concern that the void will pose a health and safety risk to members of the public and restrict access to the business.”

The Market Place project had started in January and includes resurfacing works to help the town host large-scale events.

The replacement of existing benches, additional seating, recycling bins, installation of planters, trees and flowers and cycle parking facilities were also included.

It represented a scaled down version of initial plans for the central location after a £1.3m vision – including bespoke architecture and street furniture – was shelved.

Ms Heron added: “We were made aware of a cellar void a couple of weeks ago and immediately instructed our contractor to ensure the void was suitably covered and made safe. The works to the void and Market Place as a whole have now been completed and we are very pleased with the outcome.

“Nmcn have been very professional and sensitive to businesses, shoppers and visitors to the town centre throughout the project and are now giving back to the local area by undertaking voluntary improvements in the grounds of Wigan Parish Church.”