Plans submitted for concert venue

Today's Community Church, Pottery Road, Wigan
Today's Community Church, Pottery Road, Wigan

AFTER decades of frustration, could Wigan finally get the major concert hall it has been crying out for?

That was the astonishing question on the recession-hit town’s lips today after plans were unveiled for a 1,000-seat auditorium near Wigan Pier.

The multi-million-pound project proposals by Today’s Community Church left many local supporters of the performing arts completely flat-footed – yet delighted.

The church would take the lead on constructing the major venue, which would be used for its services but, crucially for the borough, would also be available for public hire and major events.

Wigan has found itself in the cultural wilderness for years after the systematic closure of theatres, concert halls and even clubs, meaning it rarely plays host to significant professional acts such as top comics, bands and orchestras, unless at an outdoor event.

Over the years, there have been several bids to get a professional-standard auditorium built at sites around the town, including at the iconic Pier complex, but each has foundered though a lack of either cash or political will.

With that in mind, today’s announcement was greeted with a degree of caution, although campaigners said it would be a terrific boost for Wigan should it come to fruition.

The church has already been in talks with Wigan Council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust about the project which, its senior leader David Belfield said today, would be funded by the “generous giving of the church congregation together with external funding and commercial activity”.

The project is set to generate scores of jobs, and has been made possible by the work to create the Saddle Relief Road.

Full story in today’s (Monday) Wigan Evening Post ...