Delight at Wigan's King Street historic buildings cash

Owners of historic buildings have spoken of their delight after Wigan Council was successful with a major funding bid.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 9:30 am
Marie Bintley (assistant director of growth and housing, Becca Heron, director for economy and skills, Duncan Wilson Chief Executive, Historic England, Alison McKenzie-Folan Chief Executive, Sir Laurie Magnus Chairman of Historic England Commissioners, Lesley OHalloran (assistant director for customer services and culture, Catherine Dewar, Regional Director, Historic England, Dave Jenkins and Jonathan Davenport,The Old Courts

Historic England has backed plans to create a Heritage Action Zone on King Street in Wigan town centre with an investment of around £2m.

The cash will see several listed buildings restored to their former glory along and opportunities created to drive cultural engagement and education.

Dave Jenkins, managing director of The Old Courts, who own the former Royal Court Theatre said: “Put simply, the investment is key to completing the physical works needed to bring the theatre back to life.

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“We are delighted with the news from Heritage Action Zone in terms of The Royal Court Theatre but there is a much wider story unfolding which will see the regeneration of King Street in general.

“This is a good time for Wigan and we’re delighted to be able to play our part in the progress.”

With additional investment from the council and building owners, it is anticipated that the investment will reach almost £2m and will be spent over the next four years.

The King Street project will support economic and cultural growth by repairing and restoring listed buildings, enabling them to be brought back into active use, and providing opportunities for cultural engagement and education linked to the town’s heritage.

Dave Woodward, of LEM Holdings Ltd, who own the former Arthur Smiths solicitors said: “Due to the concentration of clubs and bars on King Street we have found it very difficult to attract new tenants.

“This new initiative is most welcome and we are happy to liaise with the Council to make King Street a better and thriving place to be.”

King Street was a century ago a hub of musical hall and concert venues, later home to theatres and cinemas and, more recently, one of the biggest nightclub attractions in the North West.

But the club scene has faded, with cheap supermarket booze and online dating variously blamed for the demise.

John Simpson, representative of the company who own building number 7-9 on King Street said: “The area has suffered from little interest in investment but with the council fronting revitalisation in the area with their successful bid, this could seriously change those thoughts.”

Wigan Council will now work with Historic England and building owners over the next few months to draw up the investment plans in more detail.

Money has also been allocated to Tyldesley town centre thanks to a community bid from a group called Driven.

That bid aims to bring Top Chapel in order to bring it back into viable use, tackle local parking issues, refurbish five vacant buildings and encourage businesses based in Conservation Areas to comply with shop front design criteria.

Further details about the two bids will be released as the plans develop.