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Wigan dementia care site gets the go-ahead

The former council-owned Gateway House will be knocked down and turned into an assisted living complex
The former council-owned Gateway House will be knocked down and turned into an assisted living complex

Town hall bosses have green-lit plans to demolish a former council building and erect an assisted living complex in its place.

Gateway House, in Standishgate, will be torn down and replaced with apartment blocks that will house elderly residents living with dementia.

The original designs for the redevelopment of the Gateway House site

The original designs for the redevelopment of the Gateway House site

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The building was home to Wigan Council’s education department until it relocated to the Wigan Life Centre in 2012. The site was first put up for sale in 2011 as hard-pressed council bosses struggled to balance the books.

It lies in the Dicconson Conservation Area and was formerly occupied by the Convent of Notre Dame and its school house, the Notre Dame High School for Girls.

Hilldale Housing Association is likely to operate the new facilities once they are built, and a contractor will be sought with an anticipated start on site later this year. The scheme will include a number of small households for up to nine people.

It is designed to accommodate those with complex needs and learning difficulties ranging from dementia, enduring mental health issues, autistic spectrum and physical disabilities including bariatric (obesity-related) needs.

These occupants will have their own private apartment complete with park-and-charge points for mobility scooters right outside their front doors.

They will also have access to a communal lounge, kitchen and dining area, where they will be encouraged to interact as a family would do.

The residents will also be able to enjoy a courtyard and external terrace.

The new development originally proposed to erect two detached buildings, comprising a two-storey and a four-storey residential institution following the demolition of the existing buildings.

But the council knocked back the plans to build an extra storey into the premises. Andy Titterton, Director and Founder of Studio KMA, believed the town hall had “missed an opportunity” in blocking part of the concept designs.

“Our original design for this scheme represents a blueprint for later life living and dementia care,” he said.

“We are working with a team which is specialist in this field and there is a wider plan for our design to be rolled out strategically throughout the region over the next five to ten years. The existing site is within a conservation area and in need of urgent regeneration.

“Whilst our initial concept design pushed boundaries, an enforced restriction on height of the building fronting Standishgate resulted in a missed opportunity for Wigan, in our view.”

He added: “That said, we look forward to successfully progressing our concept in other areas of Greater Manchester with the support of the GM Mayor.”