Bid submitted for nearly £40m to transform Wigan's Haigh Hall plus Ashton and Leigh town centres

Town hall bosses have submitted bids for nearly £40m to transform three key locations across the borough.

By Gaynor Clarke
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 3:45 pm

Wigan Council hopes to land financial backing for the projects in Wigan, Ashton and Leigh from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

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The largest application is for £20m to help turn Haigh Hall into a cultural visitor destination of national significance.

Haigh Hall could be transformed if the funding is granted

In Ashton and Leigh town centres, there are plans for public realm and community space improvements, along with projects to improve road safety, aimed at creating more welcoming environments for shoppers and visitors.

Council leader Coun David Molyneux said: “We are delighted to have submitted three strong, exciting and achievable bids that have been shaped in partnership with residents and partner organisations.

“These projects follow on from our own masterplans for these locations and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the consultation phases leading up to this milestone.

“It is important to note that our borough is identified by central government within the top tier of local authorities for funding.

“These bids encapsulate a Wigan borough that is looking to the future; how we help our local high streets to thrive, working with our communities to deliver improvements that people want to see and showcasing our spectacular heritage.”

The plans for Haigh Hall, which have been drawn up with artists Al and Al, come after the building returned to the council’s control last year, following a High Court battle with a hotel operator.

The cash would help to pay for the full repair and restoration of the grade II-listed hall, internal repairs, restoration and remodelling, and major investment in carbon reduction measures.

Once complete, the venue would have a host of attractions, including a permanent gallery for exhibiting work by renowned Wigan artist Theodore Major and space for high-quality dining and hospitality, such as events, weddings and accommodation.

There would also be improved parking and access, as well as the introduction of an electric land train to connect the hall and park to Wigan town centre and public transport.

Refurbishment of Leigh’s indoor market and Civic Square are at the forefront of the town’s bid, which is worth £11.4m.

It would see the Civic Square transformed into a community events space and becoming better connected to the town centre, with improvements to King Street, Market Street and Market Place to make the route more pedestrian and cycle-friendly.

The refurbishment of the indoor market would be bolstered by a shop-front and building grant scheme for private owners to improve the appearance and quality of businesses in the wider town centre.

Ashton’s £7.2m bid includes plans for a new market and community space. The bid also works to improve road safety and the look and feel of Gerard Street.

A shop-front grant scheme is also planned for Ashton to help improve the exterior of the buildings, make the town centre more attractive and preserve the heritage of these buildings.

Coun Molyneux added: “I am confident that our proposals meet the Government’s criteria for the Levelling Up Fund and, although we expect high levels of competition across the country for this funding, I hope that the strength of our three bids will shine through and enable us to deliver these exciting projects with our communities.”