Ambitious masterplan for transformation of Wigan shopping centre unveiled
Wigan Council has announced its strategic partners for the redevelopment of The Galleries Shopping Centre.
The £130m plans will see the retail hub completely altered, with leisure and entertainment facilities, a hotel, hundreds of new homes, a new market hall and a large public square for outdoor events all in the proposed scheme.
The council will work with Cityheart and Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI) on the final plans.
It is hoped construction work can start by 2022 with an anticipated finish date of 2025 for the project.
The masterplan involves totally transforming The Galleries, with a multimedia centre including a six-screen cinema, a music and e-sports venue, a 10-lane bowling alley, an indoor mini golf facility and places to eat and drink.
The scheme then proposes having an evening entertainment space, a hotel, no fewer than 464 residential units, a new market hall including a contemporary food hall, a co-working space and small offices and landscaped public areas for annual outdoor events.
Makinson Arcade will also be given some attention and there will be 460 car parking spaces located in the existing basement.
The council says the plans have been drawn up to turn Wigan town centre into a much more attractive option for living, working and visiting as well as helping to ensure it has a sustainable long-term future.
The masterplan was created following consultations with residents, retailers, traders and visitors on what should happen to The Galleries, which is currently mostly home to shops as well as the galleries and exhibition spaces at The Fire Within HQ.
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux said: “These proposals very much reflect the feedback we got from residents about the importance of vibrant town centres during the Big Listening Project in 2018 and the more recent consultation held earlier this year.
“Now more than ever it’s vital we do everything we can to create exciting and welcoming town centres to help support our local businesses and jobs.
"These plans do just that and I certainly can’t wait to see them materialise."
The council says it has chosen Cityheart, a North West based property development and investment company, because it has a 15-year track record of successfully delivering significant projects across the country, working almost exclusively with the public sector.
UK-based BCEGI, which is involved in redevelopment work in Bolton town centre and at Manchester Airport, will lead the construction programme for the new scheme.
Together they have formed a joint venture partnership called Galleries25, reflecting the hoped-for year of opening.
It is hoped the redevelopment of the 440,000 square foot shopping centre will create 475 construction jobs and a further 190 jobs when the scheme opens.
Galleries25 has committed to recruiting local people, including taking on 25 apprentices each year, providing work experience and education visits and supporting the local supply chain by spending around £52m.
Around 864 volunteer hours will also be donated to the voluntary sector.
Mark McNamee, managing director at Cityheart, said: “Our plans recognise the significance that The Galleries site has in Wigan Council’s plans to regenerate and repurpose the town centre.
"Together with our partners, BCEGI, we are looking forward to working with the Wigan Council and other stakeholders to deliver this unique, once in a lifetime redevelopment to create a new living, entertainment and leisure destination, to be a place many can call home, in the heart of the town.”
Dongwen Yu, lead director of BCEGI, said: “We are delighted to be selected as Wigan Council’s preferred Strategic Development Partner alongside Cityheart.
"The Galleries project is an extremely important and exciting opportunity to transform the town centre and we are looking forward to working closely with the council, local businesses and the wider community to develop our joint vision.
"The development cements BCEGI's long term future in the region, a future that we believe will benefit the council and the people of the borough for years to come.”
The masterplan also includes a number of environmentally-friendly measures including installing photovoltaics to generate solar power and reduce carbon emissions, having-energy efficient water fittings to reduce consumption and putting in electric car charging points and cycling storage in the basement car park to encourage greener travel.
Wigan Council is looking to create a more diverse leisure and retail offer, aiming to attract more people to the town centre and then encourage them to stay longer, particularly in the evening.
The market will also be relocated to an area of the shopping centre which is currently mothballed.
The local authority also wants the town centre to be better-connected, with improved pedestrian links to make it easier to walk from one area to another.
The council bought The Galleries in 2018 to drive forward redevelopment of the town centre.
For more information visit the project's website at www.galleries25.com
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