Wigan redevelopment projects hanging in the balance

An artist's impression of the New Galleries
An artist's impression of the New Galleries

TWO major Wigan redevelopment projects predicted to provide significant boosts to the borough economy hang in the balance.

The Galleries shopping centre has been sold with new owners - US based Colony Capital - considering significant changes to the £60m Makinson Quarter masterplan

Location photographs of the proposed development site of Tower Grand

Location photographs of the proposed development site of Tower Grand

At the other side of the town centre, the Tower Grand hotel and retail scheme has been scrapped with developers now hoping to build an 120-strong apartment block in its place.

The question marks over both schemes will cause concern in the corridors of Wigan Town Hall as civic leaders leaders were banking on the projects to bring an “alive after five” economy to the town.

The Galleries, which has been handed a setback this week with the announcement that Morrisons is to close, was sold last month as part of a multi-million pound property portfolio.

Colony Capital paid £311m for the package, which includes shopping centres across the country, and has appointed UK firm Ellandi to oversee operations.

We are interested in maximising the potential prospects for the property. However, the closure of Morrisons would be a disappointment and casts further doubt as to the economic viability of The Galleries in its current format

Ellandi spokesman

But the firm is understood to be reviewing different redevelopment options.

An Ellandi spokesman told the Observer: “We are interested in maximising the potential prospects for the property. However, the closure of Morrisons would be a disappointment and casts further doubt as to the economic viability of The Galleries in its current format.

“It may also necessitate revising redevelopment proposals, put forward by the previous owners, in order to create a property that plays a central role at the heart of Wigan.”

Planning permission for the Makinson Quarter scheme has been granted and more detailed plans were expected by the town hall later this year.

Emma Barton, assistant director for economic development and skills, said: “We are looking forward to meeting with the new owners and discussing plans. We remain committed to building a strong economy and are excited to share this vision with new partners.”

The Tower Grand hotel project has been beset by major delays despite developers Scarborough Group claiming a hotel firm was close to signing up.

Since the initial plans were unveiled in 2012, a rival hotel - a Premier Inn - has opened across from the Riverway site and lack of interest has ultimately scuppered the scheme.

Kate Howe, Scarborough associate director, said: “We had been driving forward a hotel option for some time, but unfortunately we could not secure a viable occupier at the site.

“Despite this, we remain committed to bringing a development forward and are now working towards a residential planning application. We are aware that in moving forward with this option, we will be the first developers to bring forward a significant residential scheme in the town centre for a number of years.

“However, we are confident that our experience in this field will result in an exciting and creative development which will be in high demand.

“We have already undertaken pre-application discussions with Wigan Council, who voiced their initial support for a residential scheme (called Tower Approach) at this location, subject to confirmation of the final design and a full planning application.”