Strategic plan to transform Wigan town centre to be given go-ahead by councillors

The Galleries
The Galleries

A strategic plan that will set the foundations for the long-term redevelopment of Wigan town centre as a diverse and thriving destination is set to be approved by councillors.

Wigan Council’s Cabinet are set to support the new ‘Strategic Regeneration Framework’ for Wigan town centre when they meet on Thursday (January 24).

The framework is a long-term plan for the town detailing how a new varied offer including thriving residential, office, leisure and retail sectors, can be delivered.

The plan also identifies opportunities that can be achieved in the short-term to set the basis on which the town can attract investment and grow and diversify.

Key projects in the short-term include:

The creation of small business hubs as start-up space for the digital, technology, arts and culture sectors.

Redevelop the Galleries and Market Hall, which the council acquired last year to drive forward redevelopment, which will include relocating the market to a more central position

Defining the opportunity linked to Wigan rail stations as a gateway to high speed rail

Protecting the retail core and setting out the future of what Wigan’s ‘High Street’ should be to drive footfall

The town centre to be actively managed so all residents can enjoy it in the day and evening

A car parking strategy identifying if supply meets demand

Linking the Wigan Pier Quarter redevelopment, which will start this year, with the town centre.

The framework acknowledges that Wigan cannot currently rely on the private sector to drive change and deliver the growth needed.

It therefore identifies interventions that the council can lead, working with private sector partners, over a transitional 24 month period to lever in new opportunities within the town centre.

Councillor David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “The success of our town centres is a vital issue for our residents and the borough as a whole and their future viability is one of the highest economic priorities at the council.

“We recently conducted our Big Listening Project to hear the ideas of our residents for the future and town centres were the most popular issue for comments and discussion.

“Like many towns across the country Wigan has been affected as people choose to spend money online rather than at high street stores.

“This plan is an important step in defining a new future for Wigan town centre.

“It is a blueprint for our aspirations but also an honest assessment of what we need to do to get there.

“There is currently an oversupply of retail space and the council needs to act to develop a new offers to attract visitors such as culture, leisure, employment and residential uses.

“It is clear the Wigan town centre of the future will be a very different place to what it is now and this plan will enable that diverse offer to be delivered.

“We are fortunate to be in a strong position to seize these opportunities.

“With HS2 coming to Wigan, new link roads being built to make journeys to the town centre faster and easier and exciting plans coming forward for the Galleries, I believe we are at the start of something very special for Wigan town centre.”

Wigan is the largest town in the borough for shopping, services and employment with more than 120,000 square metres of retail floorspace, 300,000 visitors a week and it supports 10,000 jobs.

There are 645,000 people living within 20 minutes drive of Wigan town centre.

In order to create the plan the council has been helped by specialists in urban planning and design from Deloitte and Gleave 23.

Simon Bedford, Partner at Deloitte said “The SRF resets the strategy for the redevelopment of Wigan Town Centre.

"A number of interventions have been proposed as part of the new strategy which aim to bring new energy and vitality to the town centre through diversification of its offer and attracting people of all ages into the town so it becomes a true place to live, work and play.

"The foundations can be put in place to create a distinctive town, a place that starts to respond to the changing role of the high street and ultimately one that Wigan residents can be proud of.”

The council with its partners will now undertake detailed development strategy for each of the plan’s priorities.

Detailed plans of the Galleries redevelopment will be unveiled later in the year.

The council has supported retailers, the markets and shoppers with a free car parking offer on weekends which has run throughout the Christmas period up to the end of January.

The framework can be viewed here