Threat to ChinaMex

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THOUSANDS of Wigan jobs could be ‘gazumped’ by a rival bid for a major trade centre.

Fears are growing that the borough’s long-awaited £125m ChinaMex scheme at Westwood, in conjunction with the Chinese State Government, could now be overtaken by a neighbouring plan announced by the owners of the Trafford Centre.

The Peel Group claims its new Peel International Trade Centre (PITC) – to be built at either Birkenhead or Ellesmere Port – will be a brave new business concept that derives from the excellent business links made through the Liverpool Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

Peel says its facility would be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, and the largest and most sustainable wholesale trade centre in Europe.

The firm is hoping for planning permission by this August.

Wigan’s textile city scheme, an import/export and manufacturing hub for the Chinese textile industry, complete with hotel and casino, won planning permission amid dancing Chinese Dragons and much fanfare almost year ago. But developer Kent-based Commercial Group Properties (now known as China Gateway International) is yet to start to any building works on the remaining section of the former power station site.

No-one from the firm was available for comment today.

The Wigan project was predicted to have created more than 4,000 jobs in the borough and the wider Greater Manchester region.

Peel says its PITC would enable more than 1,000 companies, from countries such as China, India and Korea, to exhibit, sell, assemble and distribute their goods into the UK, Irish and European markets.

It would serve not just as a trading ‘gateway’ into the domestic market, just as in the case of the Wigan China Gate proposals, but to the whole of Europe.

Metro chiefs admitted that while the process of bringing the development to Westwood Park was on hold at the moment, it would proceed with renewed vigour when the Chinese economy started to pick up again.

There have been three years of talks between the council and London-based Commercial Group Properties Plc along with Chinamex, China’s official foreign trade body.

Despite the two sides’ agreeing terms the £10m “sale” of the 20-hectare site has so far not gone through.

Commercial Group Properties has itself prioritised another 1.4m square feet Chinagate-way scheme in Manston, , ahead of the Wigan proposal.

No-one from Wigan Council was available to comment.