Redundant former Wigan town centre council offices to be given a new lease of life

Wigan’s Civic Centre is set to be turned into a business hub for supporting start-up enterprises.

The council has signed off on contractors to begin the work to overhaul the concrete former home of its own offices.

Since the rejuvenation of Wigan Town Hall and the Life Centre, there is no longer a need for local authority space in the Millgate premises.

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The Civic Centre was also for public service use as well but has stood empty for several years now.

The concrete civic building on Millgate has been one of Wigan's less attractive landmarks for decades

When the Grand Arcade was being built in the mid-noughties, the Civic Centre figured in further plans for the complex – later scrapped when the recession hit – which involved knocking it down in favour of a swish new complex of restaurants, smaller offices and even a cinema.

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But the only use it has been put to since closing has been for location shooting of the Morecambe-based crime drama The Bay where its facade was dressed up as a police station.

Charlotte Cordingley, director for housing, property and corporate assets, said:

“Following the refurbishment of Wigan Town Hall, the Civic Centre is no longer required for occupational use by the council.

Wigan Council has appraised a number of different options to bring this site back into use for the benefit of our local economy and sustainably creating a new facility in Wigan borough by redeveloping a currently empty building.

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"Our vision is to create a supportive environment for existing SMEs and encourage new entrepreneurs to drive growth and significantly improve current performance against key economic indicators at a sub-regional and national level.”

The council’s plan is to retain the use of the building at the heart of the community so the public can use the facility to boost their own enterprises.

In turn, the council believes this can help boost the local economy.

“The ambition is for the creation of hubs, where existing buildings such as the Civic Centre within the council’s ownership will be repurposed to create start-up space with fast broadband connection in the digital, technology, arts and cultural sectors in particular and this project will be the first phase towards achieving that aim,” Ms Cordingley added.

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“A complementary and distinctive offer will be provided through a tailored innovation support and entrepreneurship programme delivered by a specialist management and leadership team.

“This would help to attract and retain innovative, high growth businesses in the town centre. The council is progressing delivery plans and we hope to be able to reveal further details about the plans in forthcoming weeks.”

Currently the council has not confirmed a start date for the repurposing works.

The Civic Centre was officially opened in the 1960s by the then mayor of Wigan Coun John Farrimond.

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It is fair to say that it is not one of Wigan’s more attractive buildings, verging on the brutalist.

But when council staff began vacating it in the summer of 2018 it was rumoured that the premises might be converted into a hotel. But nothing came of those plans either.