Last days for town centre ‘bomb site’?

The old town hall site
The old town hall site

PROGRESS is at last being made over the future of Wigan’s most embarrassing eyesore.

Highly placed council sources have told the Evening Post that after months of behind-closed-doors negotiation with the authority, the Channel Islands-based owners of the former Rodney Street town hall site at the heart of the town centre are now on the verge of lodging a new application.

It is believed that the controversial hotel and leisure elements which have thwarted previous projects have now been dropped in favour of a plan concentrating on offices and apartments.

Attempts to force the redevelopment of the building have been mired in delays complicated by the fact that some of the surviving sections of the former town hall are listed because of important architectural features.Meanwhile the Jersey-based owners cannot be forced to improve the site because they fall outside British planning jurisdiction.

But council director for economy Steve Normington today confirmed that following the “tidying up” of the land adjacent to the derelict site and its temporary use as a car park, the authority has continued discussions with representatives of the off-shore owners.

And he said he was now optimistic that a solution to this long-standing problem could be found in the near future.

He said that although there were no firm proposals yet lodged, discussions were to take place with representatives of the site and English Heritage.