Green light for Wigan youth centre

Michael Hunt

Wigan Council has approved plans for a £6.5m youth centre which is the brainchild of local businessman Dave Whelan.

Whelan, who is chairman of Wigan Athletic Football Club, has donated over half of the development costs with other local businessmen, Martin and Bill Ainscough, together with funding from the North West Development Agency.

The Liverpool studio of international architects Austin-Smith:Lord was appointed for its design.

The Wigan Boys and Girls Club will be run by a new local charity, which is being advised by OnSide North West, a regional charity with its roots in the Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

OnSide was set up to develop local partnerships within the public and private sectors to help build facilities for young people living in urban areas.

The new 34,000 sq ft centre will feature recreational facilities, sport, music and art studios, a climbing wall, all-weather pitches and improved public spaces at Mesnes Field in Wigan town centre.

ASL's landscape architects were brought in to design the club's outdoor spaces and the redevelopment of approximately half of the Mesnes playing fields into an improved green public space.

Phil Jervis, project director for the scheme at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: "This has always been an ambitious project and our main challenge was to create a design which appeals to young people and is sensitive to the surrounding area.

"We have worked closely with heritage bodies, the council and local young people, to deliver something that Wigan can be proud of and are delighted to see the scheme moving forward."

Construction is due to start in autumn this year, with the club set to open in autumn 2011.

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Austin Smith Lord or the local Council didn’t work with or consult local residents!

By Peter Fleetwood