New-look town centre to by ready by end of year

An artist's impression of how Market Place could look
An artist's impression of how Market Place could look

The million pound revamp of Market Place in Wigan town centre will finish before the end of this year, council bosses have said.

As details for the final plan have been unveiled for the first time, the town hall said the revamp will take five months to complete with works starting in spring.

Market Place in the past

Market Place in the past

Having been hit by several delays - including being subject to a financial review - council chiefs will be relieved a start date is in sight for the ambitious £1.3m project.

Deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “The new Market Place will deliver a much improved environment for visitors and businesses and as a place for events and leisure activities. We recognise that our town centres are so much more a social space than they used to be which is why we have created a design which will make many more events possible.

“We have secured the very best architects, artist and materials so that we will deliver something of real quality that will stand the test of time.”

The final design, which in its early drafts had a water feature which has since been scrapped, will reflect elements of the town centre’s heritage, its tramways in particular.

We have secured the very best architects, artist and materials so that we will deliver something of real quality that will stand the test of time.

Coun David Molyneux

It features “contemporary lighting (which will change depending on the season), built-in seating, trees and granite paving areas”, designed to make it easier to stage large events in the town centre, the council has said.

And Landscape architects for the project, Re-form, are also completing a major landscaping scheme in Hull as part of its 2017 City of Culture celebrations.

Coun Molyneux added: “Chris Brammall’s sculptures will help set Wigan town centre apart from the rest and helps connect the modern town centre with its heritage.

“We are delighted that Chris, who has worked with the biggest cities and organisations across the country, is working with us and we are excited to see his designs come to life.”

Chris Brammall

Chris Brammall

Mr Brammall, who has created sculptures for NOMA Manchester, Derby Innovation Centre, The Lake District National Park and the Imperial War Museum, has designed the striking beacons which will reflect the tramway stanchions that once stood in Market Place.

He said: “It’s an honour to be commissioned to work on this major project for Wigan town centre. Wigan has such a rich history and it was vital to bring that into the design and celebrate the tramways that transported people to the town centre and through Market Place a century ago.”

The construction period will coincide with the works to improve the town’s bus station, which also starts in 2017.

And council bosses have already handed a period of free rent to market traders in recompense for the disruption.

Coun Molyneux added: “While there will be short-term disruption during the works there will be long-term benefits for everyone. Having the works take place at the same time will minimise on-going disruption and enable town centre events to take place later in the year.

“The works will also be planned to ensure that the town centres remain safe places for visitors and viable for businesses during their duration. Wigan Council is committed to supporting the continued vitality of the town centres which is why we have invested over £2m in improving both Leigh and Wigan town centres this year.

“The two major town centres in the borough are hugely important both as shopping destinations for many thousands of people and as a place that supports hundreds of businesses and employers.”