Pop-up leisure plan for The Galleries

Food Fest on the Square traders in 2018
Food Fest on the Square traders in 2018

Council bosses are considering spending cash to bring pop-up leisure facilities to a Wigan shopping centre this summer as a stop-gap for wider regeneration plans.

The town hall bought the Galleries for £8m last year and work is ongoing to bring a development partner on board.

But officers recently revealed no formal talks have started and this has prompted concerns the facility could become a “white elephant” for the town.

In the meantime, bosses are assessing whether short-term leisure uses can be introduced to drive footfall.

A restricted report outlining an option for capital spends will be discussed by cabinet members later this month although the cost of the move is not stated.

Becca Heron, director of economy and skills, said: “The council is considering if there are any short term leisure uses that could be introduced while more detailed plans for wider redevelopment are being drawn up, including for example events. We will confirm proposals for the wider development in the summer.”

The council’s new strategic framework for the town centre references potential for a cinema, bowling alley or indoor soft play centre at the Galleries, alongside shops. It includes relocating the town’s market – currently within the complex – to a new site close to Market Place.

Opposition leader Coun Michael Winstanley last year questioned whether the council had “put the cart before the horses” when it purchased the centre and has now voiced concern of its becoming a “white elephanty.”

Earlier this month the council said a previously one-off food festival will become a regular attraction throughout the summer.

The Food Fest on the Square event held in the Galleries will take place on April 20 and will continue on the third Saturday of each month until October 19.

Ms Heron added: “Last year’s Food Fest on the Square was a fantastic success and is proof that people enjoy coming into town centres for social reasons. Shopping habits are changing, and at Wigan we are actively trying to diversify our offer to match what people want. Holding events like this in

The Galleries also demonstrates our commitment to being innovative and re-imagining how these empty spaces can be used.”