Planning decision looms for Wigan Pier transformation project

The Orwell could become a wedding and events venue
The Orwell could become a wedding and events venue

Ambitious plans to completely transform the famous Wigan Pier area will go before councillors for a final decision.

Two applications related to the Wigan Pier Quarter will be considered by the council planning committee at its next meeting.

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The proposals have already been recommended for approval by town hall officers.

The plans involve turning The Orwell into a wedding venue and events space, including cafe and restaurant areas.

The Heritage Centre, meanwhile, would be changed from an education facility and museum to a gin distillery and microbrewery, with the former The Way We Were museum becoming a food market and hall with a restaurant, bar and venue within it.

A separate application, put in by developer Step Places, then proposes demolishing a toilet block on Wallgate next to the Pier area and building eight three-storey terraced houses with access, parking and landscaping.

The proposals include wide-ranging changes to the former industrial area which has been unused for a number of years, with plans for alterations to building facades, removing the

Heritage Centre’s front canopy and creating public spaces. Artworks and a new bridge over the canal are also being considered.

There will also be parking spaces, landscaping and external lighting if councillors are minded to approve it.

The comprehensive redevelopment of the site is a joint project between Step Places, the council and The Old Courts.

The report for the change of use application concludes: “The scheme will regenerate and bring investment and employment opportunities to a vacant and underutilised site.

“It will help to preserve and enhance this important grouping of buildings within the Wigan Pier Conservation Area.”

The plans contain a new car park to the west of the site for the new events facilities, a drop-off point from Wallgate outside The Orwell and a new pedestrian crossing there. A taxi layby has also been included for bringing visitors to and from the site.

The reports suggest the plans have caused little concern among residents, with the only representation received coming from a business on Miry Lane which had no objections to the houses as long as their work was not interfered with.

The houses would be built in offset pairs. Around 80 trees will have to be removed and replacements planted.

A decision will be made at the town hall on Tuesday July 16, with the meeting starting at 2pm. The full reports are on Wigan Council’s website.