Plans revealed for food hall, bar and offices to transform Wigan's historic Eckersley Mills
Up to 500 jobs could be created under plans to “breathe new life” into an historic Wigan mill complex by opening a food hall, bar and offices.
Major proposals have been revealed for Eckersley Mills, on Swan Meadow Road, which was built in the 19th century and was once considered to be the largest mill complex in Britain.
The Heaton Group, based on Wallgate, bought the site last year and has now submitted a planning application to transform a grade II-listed building known as Mill One.
It would see work to create a food hall and bar on the ground floor – akin to the popular Altrincham Market – with office space on the upper floors, a roof-top extension and an outside terrace area.
Heaton Group managing director John Heaton said: “As a Wigan business, this is a very special scheme for us. We live and work in the town and know how important it is. We're sure it will bring a host of positive benefits to Wigan, but we also know it must be done right.
“Historic England have seen our plans and have been extremely encouraging and complimentary about them, which gives us confidence we're doing things right.
"We want to bring life back to the mills. We are breathing new life into a neglected asset and are committed to saving as much as we can. For too long this is a site that has suffered from a lack of vision and investment. Our plans are all about rescuing what we can and creating something the people of Wigan can be proud of. These plans will create jobs and attract businesses into the town."
Documents with the application show there are plans for work to the inside and outside of the building, as well as some demolition work.
The food hall would have a variety of stalls and seating for 350 visitors, creating somewhere “similar in nature to the successful markets developed in Manchester and Liverpool such as Maccy Mayor, Altrincham Market and the Baltic Food Market”. There would also be a bar and kitchens, plus seating outside.
Open-plan office space would be available on the first, second and third floors, with the third floor used by Heaton Group.
A new fourth floor would be created to offer further office space, as well as a bar and terrace area for office workers.
More than 3,000 people worked at Eckersley Mills in its heyday in the 1920s and production continued on the site until 1968.
Since then there have been various tenants and alterations have been made to the buildings.
It is not the first time major plans have been put forward for the site – permission was granted in 2017 for more than 300 homes, offices and a hotel, but the scheme did not go ahead.
The Heaton Group will be looking at a wider masterplan for the complex in future, as it aims to “reinvigorate and save as many buildings as possible”.
It comes as work is progressing nearby in the multi-million pound regeneration of Wigan Pier, where there will also be a food hall, along with a gin distillery and microbrewery, events facility and more.
Wigan Council’s planning department hopes to make a decision on proposals for Eckersley Mills by the end of the year.