Mill revamp plan back on track

The site of Eckersley Mill redevelopment
The site of Eckersley Mill redevelopment

Fresh hopes have been raised that a stalled multi-million pound redevelopment of a Wigan cultural landmark is back on track.

Ambitious plans to transform the site of Eckersley Mills into a leisure and business complex have been on the horizon for almost a decade.

But Wigan Today can reveal the masterplan is back on the agenda for town hall bosses after talks have been resurrected with developers.

The town hall's planning committee on Tuesday granted a three month extension for Eckersley Property Investment to finally submit its signed section 106 agreement, the piece of planning regulation that was holding up the process.

In this case, the agreement called on the applicants to make a financial contribution towards ensuring affordable housing within the 315 proposed homes.

And agree to undertake maintenance and repair works on the site’s listed buildings in addition to creating public open space and play areas within the plans.

Latest planning documents reveal that Eckersley Property Investment has struggled since 2010 to get these measures in place. But the issues are now close to being resolved.

The report reads: “The applicant has further reiterated that issues arose due to significant difficulties in securing the execution of the Section 106 Agreement with their bank, namely the financial position at the time and the bank’s change of ownership.”

It goes on to add: “The applicant has now however confirmed that the bank has entered into the Section 106 Agreement and the applicant would like to proceed with its completion. It can now be reported that the council are working with the applicant towards the completion of the agreement.”

The Eckersley Mill site is the borough’s largest surviving collection of Victorian mills and the redevelopment was reported to cost in the region of £170m. It will include transforming the Swan Meadow Lane location into more than 300 homes, a hotel, offices plus “cultural and leisure” facilities.

If the plans are realised, they would contribute to a significant makeover for the surrounding area that will include the regeneration of the Wigan Pier quarter.

The report concludes: “This is a proposal for a comprehensive re-development of a strategically important site close to Wigan town centre and within the Wigan Pier Quarter. In addition to enabling the sustainable regeneration of the area, it will assist in securing the preservation and restoration of a group of Grade II listed mills and associated buildings.

“The development will make a valuable contribution to the regeneration of the borough.”

Developers now have three months to submit its section 106 agreement, otherwise they will be forced to seek a further extension once again from the town hall.

Coun David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s deputy leader, said: “Developing and re-generating the borough is a key priority for us and that’s why we are keen to support any investment for the town, this also links perfectly into our town centre masterplan.

“A section 106 agreement has previously been granted in 2010 and 2015 for the Eckersley Mill site, but the agreement wasn’t signed by the applicant Eckersley Property Investment in time to allow the development to go ahead."