Wigan Galleries project will "breathe new life into the town centre" say backers

Backers of Wigan’s Galleries25 masterplan say it will breathe new life into Wigan town centre.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:50 am

The £190m transformation was given the green light on November 2, and work could now start as soon as January.

A hotel, 464 homes and a multimedia centre with a cinema, 10-lane bowling alley and indoor mini-golf are planned as part of the project – a joint venture partnership between the local authority and developers Cityheart and BCEGI UK.

A new market hall, shops and office space has also been proposed. While it seems quite a lot of Wiganers have doubts about the plans, the developers and council believe they can win round the public once the work begins.

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from left, Aaron Adams representative of BCEGI, Mark McNamee director of City Heart and Aiden Thatcher director of economy and skills at Wigan Council - Representatives of the developers of Galeries25 in Wigan town centre.

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“With that in mind, the redevelopment is looking at adapting the way our town centres look so there is a continued footfall. By injecting different uses, that will create a different offer which will benefit residents of the borough and further afield.

“Once all the noise surrounding the development gets into the public domain, it will be difficult to ignore because it is exciting for Wigan.”

One of the main concerns for people in the borough is the reduction in size of the market, but those involved want to reassure residents it will be remain a big part of the town.

Mr Thatcher added: “It is a big area of contention, we feel we are putting the market back in the centre of the town rather than it being on the periphery.

“By connecting it to Market Street and the bus station, there will be a lot more linked trips creating more footfall. The market will have a continuous presence right the way through the development as the current market won’t be decommissioned until the new market hall is constructed, so all of the traders who want to move across can and that is a commitment we have made.”

Mark McNamee, managing director of developer Cityheart, said: “Market traders are going to be front and centre of this scheme, they are huge part of any town centre particularly in Wigan with it being a market town.

“A big target area for us is that we want to make all these units affordable for people, to encourage local residents back into the town centre.

“The key to the town centre is having people living in them, by adding residential units alongside everything else will bring life and vitality back in to Wigan.

“Developers get a bad press because they come in and then they leave. That’s not what we do. Our business model is that we invest ourselves into these projects and we manage them and have an interest in making sure they work.

“Makinson Arcade is a prime example of that, which we hope will give people confidence that we aren’t just talking about these things, we’re putting the wheels in motion.”

With work set to start in the coming months up until 2025, the partnership is committed to preventing major disruption in the town.

Aaron Adams, construction director for BCEGI UK, said: “During each phase of the development, we will provide a detailed construction logistics plan to people in the borough.

“We will also have a delivery booking system to prevent vehicles coming into the town if they cant get on site and there will also be no deliveries at peak times so they won’t be anything coming in before 9.30am or after 4.30pm.

“The overall logistics plan shows very little disruption to the town centre and its infrastructure. We are considering everything, lots of thought goes into the plan and it will be managed and visible to everybody concerned.”

Businesses across the borough are being invited to look at the opportunities Galleries25 can offer at an event hosted by BCEGI UK at Wigan Youth Zone on November 18.

This is the second event that has been held, the first one having been in September. Howard Gallimore, owner of Gallimores restaurant on The Wiend, has thrown his weight behind the scheme.

He said: “This project is like winning the lottery, it is excellent for the town and its people.

“I can’t understand why some people have got negative views about it. It can only be good. Without such a development, I believe the trade in the town will be very poor in two, three years’ time.

“The council have got vision and have done something about the fall in trade. There isn’t enough retail to accommodate a site like the Galleries, so to transform it to include leisure, residential and retail is a perfect solution.”

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