Could new Wigan flats be demolished for £190m Galleries plan?

The new owner of a former Wigan town centre pub who has spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” converting it into retail units and luxury flats fears it could be flattened to make way for the Galleries 25 complex.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 9:40 am

Developers have been given permission, as part of the £190m masterplan, to demolish what used to be the Market Tavern on Market Street.

Liverpool-based company CRF Estates had already been granted planning permission to convert the premises, which have been unused for several years and were most recently home to a Thai restaurant, and were shocked to discover that all the work may be for nothing.

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The former Market Tavern

The Market Tavern is incorporated into the frabric of the Galleries, being next to the main car park ramp, and all around it is scheduled to be razed before redevelopment begins.

Even if the ex-pub is left standing while its surroundings are dismantled, there are concerns about the impact those works would have on tenants there.

But at the same time, the venture CRF is involved in ticks two of the boxes the new Galleries project is all about: accommodation and hospitality, there being a possibility that one of the ground floor units might become a coffee shop.

A CRF spokesman said the company had been disappointed by the lack of contact there had been with those involved in Galleries 25 so far.

A completed kitchen in one of the Market Street apartments

He added: “We have a lovely building here with a history and the prospect of new retail and some very nice apartments but instead of speaking to us and consulting with us, they have got a planning application to knock us down.

“The estate agents are coming round in a few days to take pictures to market the place, but at the moment the Galleries 25 project threatens to blight the whole project.

“We may be the owners with planning permission and we may have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds getting this just right but the council has compulsory purchase order powers.

“We don’t want to be doing all this only for it to be flattened in a couple of years. And even if the premises are left standing there are the issues of the impact the demolition works would have on tenants over a protracted time.

A shower room at one of the flats

“We are confused. We received a notice saying we were going to be omitted from the development and we thought ‘great.’ Then just a few weeks later we were notified that they were not going to demolish us in the first phase but at a later date!

“We are trying to invest money in Wigan and bring new residents and customers into town but we have this dark cloud hanging over us. I can’t believe we are being treated like this.”

A spokesperson for Galleries 25 developer Cityheart said: “I can confirm that whilst the Market Tavern is included in the red line planning boundary, this is currently in the ownership of a third party.

“Cityheart will be in discussions with the owners and stakeholders over the coming months as to whether or not the building is to be included in the scheme.

“If it is to be, this will then be the subject of a Reserved Matters Planning application at the appropriate time.”

The Market Tavern is described in the Galleries 25 planning report as a “non-designated heritage asset” and “whose local colmmunity interest is considered to be relatively low.”

However a Facebook group has now been set up to save it.

Wigan Council has issued several pointers about the case:

* The English planning system allows for someone to apply for planning permission on land that they do not own or control; the only requirement is that they serve notice on the actual owner.

* The applicant in this case has done this, and the planning application includes a proposal to demolish the Market Tavern and redevelop this area.

* Even if planning permission is granted, however, a developer cannot actually carry out their development unless and until they have control of the land in question.

* The developer does not own or control the Market Tavern, and so would not be in a position to demolish the building even if they had planning permission to do so.

* Planning permissions in England can be part implemented, which means that although the Market Tavern forms part of the planning consent, the remainder of the development can come forward, with the Market Tavern unaffected.

As far as compulsory purchase orders are concerned, a town hall spokeswoman added: “We can confirm that at this time there is no plan for the Council to CPO the building as it is not fundamental to achieving the objectives of the redevelopment.”

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