Second time lucky as Wigan Council receives £6.6m for regeneration of Ashton town centre
Plans to regenerate a Wigan town centre – which were rejected just two months ago – have now been given the green light after the Government allocated £6.6m.
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux previously expressed his “disappointment” that a bid for cash from the Levelling Up fund (LUF) to improve Ashton town centre was rejected in January.
But he pledged to resubmit the application and the #OurFutureAshton plan was one of 16 areas named in the Government’s spring budget announcement on Wednesday.
It will receive £6.6m for improved shop fronts, upgraded streets and public spaces, new walking and cycling routes and work to refresh the town’s market square.
Coun Molyneux said: “We were disappointed we were unsuccessful in our LUF bid for this project as we believed the application was strong, exciting and achievable, which prompted our pledge to submit a further bid.
“Although our concerns about the levelling-up agenda remain, we welcome this funding announcement that will help us move forward with our plans.”
The 16 regeneration projects totalling more than £200m unveiled by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in the budget were “assessed as high quality… that are under £10m to ensure quick delivery”.
Aidan Thatcher, the council’s director of growth and economy, said: “The plans are centred on the heart of the town centre, including the historic market site, Garswood Street and Gerard Street, and celebrate the town’s cultural heritage.
“We have had very positive contributions from stakeholders such as the local business community, residents during the public consultation, and the LUF bid had the support of the MP for Makerfield Yvonne Fovargue.
“We will look forward to progressing through the action plan now this funding is in place.”
While the council’s bid for money to regenerate Leigh town centre was also rejected earlier this year, it did manage to secure £20m to transform Haigh Hall from the Levelling Up fund.
The money will go towards restoring the historic grade II-listed building and its surroundings to their “former glory”.
Plans include restaurants, an underground bunker cinema, an art gallery for Wigan artist Theodore Major’s “visionary work”, and a rooftop terrace for astronomy.