New future in store for Wigan's Modernist icon

Wigan Civic Centre
Wigan Civic Centre

Question marks surround what the future might hold for one of Wigan’s most iconic town centre buildings.

Council chiefs have confirmed that children’s services staff, currently based in Wigan Civic Centre, are due to be relocated by the end of the summer.

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But the future of the Modernist landmark, which was first put in service by the borough in the early 70s, remains unclear.

There is speculation that the Millgate building, first unveiled by Wigan Mayor John Farrimond, could become a hotel.

Staff are expected to be relocated across the authority’s three main offices, sandwiched between Library Street and Millgate.

The arrival of the Life centres saw the Civic Centre, which formerly housed one of the cash offices, phased out as a public building.

Penny McGinty, the council’s assistant director of corporate contracts and assets, said: “In line with our accommodation strategy to reduce council buildings, the staff currently in situ at the Civic Centre will be relocated to one of the main three campus buildings over the summer period.

“This is one of the final stages of a long-term project that sees us utilise our buildings better, save £1m a year and forge better working relationships with colleagues.

“We’re currently assessing the options for the future of the Civic Centre and will ensure the public are kept updated at the appropriate time once a decision is made.”

The announcement comes at a critical juncture for the town centre, with Wigan Council recently acquiring The Galleries shopping centre, with the hopes of turning around its fortunes by creating new retail, leisure and residential opportunities.

Several sizeable units secured as part of the multi-million pound deal, which also includes Marketgate and Makinson’s Arcade, remain vacant there.

Last October the Wigan Observer revealed how the council had enjoyed mixed fortunes when it came to marketing elements of its existing property portfolio.

A Freedom of Information Act request showed that a potential £6.3m could be added to boroughs’s coffers if empty accommodation was fully occupied.

The reletting of five state-of-the-art units at Trencherfield Mill alone would recoup £440,000 for the authority.

But the council has been successful in offloading some venues, with Ince Town Hall now home to Little Giggles nursery.

Recently young people in the borough were asked how they would revolutionise Wigan’s outlook as part of a public exhibition by Jess Rotheram entitled Ideas for a Town.

One of the suggestions made for the Civic Centre would have seen its rebirth as a hub for start-up businesses or eco-friendly entrepreneurs.

Last year the centre was also named as a candidate to be named one of the region’s top 20th century buildings by Manchester Modernist Society.

Architecture admirers included it on a bus tour of the borough alongside the Turnpike Centre in Leigh, St Jude’s RC Church, the Adam Viaduct, the Heinz factory, Wigan Observer office and the BT exchange in Dorning Street.