Jonathan Twentyman

My Place | Leigh

Repurposing historic buildings and delivering affordable homes can set places like Leigh apart from the region’s city centre, writes Jonathan Twentyman of JP McGuire Developments.

I grew up in Leigh and went to St Joseph’s School school. My electrical contracting business Genlec has been based here for 30 years, and now my property development business, JP McGuire Developments, is transforming a Grade II Listed Victorian cotton mill on Mather Lane into 98 loft-style apartments.

Working in construction in the North West, I’ve noticed a huge disparity between investment in central Manchester compared to towns like Leigh. In the city centre, we’re seeing more and more big blocks of small apartments, which aren’t practical or affordable for the majority of people. We need more well-designed, affordable residential properties in smaller towns like Leigh. Things are changing, but more needs to be done.

Leigh has benefited recently from the new busway into Manchester, which makes commuting easier. The council has also pledged to invest money into improving Wigan, including new developments along the ‘Canal Corridor’, with plans for a Bridgewater Urban Village, Leigh Marina and Leigh Sports Village.

But we can’t rely solely on local authorities and the government. We need entrepreneurial people and businesses involved too. Private investment and projects are required to help Leigh meet its full potential and create a vibrant community where people want to live, work and socialise. We’re now seeing more independent shops, restaurants and businesses opening around Leigh, which is a promising sign for the area.

Often it can take just one or two improvements for a town to suddenly become an attractive option for more investment and opportunities. Take Altrincham, for example. The town centre was dead for years. Slowly more independents have come along, and the redevelopment of Altrincham Market transformed the area and it’s once again an exciting place to be. I can see the same happening for Leigh.

The next few years will be a key time for the town, and I’m proud our Loom Wharf development is part of the change for Leigh. One of our aims with the development is to make luxury, loft-style living available at an affordable price to local people. We don’t want to sell all the apartments to investors – we want them to go to people to live in, whether they are stepping on to the property ladder for the first time or are making their next move.

In towns all around the North West, there are abandoned buildings like the cotton mill we’re regenerating. There seems to be a temptation from some to pull them down and start again, but I hope more investors and developers see the potential to bring these beautiful old buildings back to life.

Your Comments

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This man’s outlook is absolutely correct: Please come down the A580 into Central Manchester!

By Acelius

Hmmm I’m not sure you can compare Leigh with Altrincham!!!

Altrincham is starting from a strong base position with significant wealthy catchment area. Leigh does not have this.

By AltyResident

Leigh became a forgotten town especially after Beeching took it of the rail network. I grew up in Pennington and went to primary school in a street which led to BICC cable factory. I have been saddened to see the mills being demolished; How the mill at Butts Bridge wa allowed to be demolished I will never understand. (The same is happening in Bolton). The old mills and warehouses are, to me, an asset rather than a liability. Keep up the good work Jonathan. I know of a mill with great potential in Bolton if you are interested.

By Ray Makin

Wigan for all its music hall joke status is managed very well. Compared to Bolton with its rubbish filled streets and rundown parks, Wigan and its environs, including Leigh seems very well maintained despite austerity.

By Elephant

Wigan Metropolitan Council uses the thriving towns such as Atherton and Leigh as it’s cashcows but refuses to invest back into these towns, instead focusing solely on the dreadful, depressing town centre of Wigan. The sooner Atherton and Leigh are able to come back under their own councils the better. Despite the lack of investment from Wigan council these towns are certainly thriving. Shame they couldn’t extend the tram along the dissused train tracks rather than build that ghastly, inefficient bus way in its place.

By Athertonian

Great stuff Jonny. Local lad doing great stuff locally

By Bernie Blood

Swallow your pride Jonathan, I can now give you 50% investment on the Mill and have another we could do in Leigh near APL Towers !!!!!! You’ve got my number !

By Jason Seddon

AltyResident will snobbish elitism keep your town thriving? I think Jonathan has vision and I see nothing but a great future. We have to start somewhere and I bet Leigh pride easily outranks Alty’s

By Steve

Ray Makin
I am interested
Message me

By Jonathan Twentyman

The country needs more business people like J Twentyman, investing in people, creating jobs and re-energising our forgotten towns. Well done Jonathan you’re a star.

By Stephen Wood

We have the talent we need the investment old mills are part of the towns heritage better to be creative with then and help regeneration

By Les Wood

AltyResident you are completely missing the point – what Jonathan is doing is incredible and helps regenerate towns into something truly special. It’s got nothing to do with catchment or wealth, it’s about investing back into the heart of a community and the people!

By Milly

Leigh is the last post of Manchester before you fall Merseyside and t
he once cotton rich town with the backing of Andy Burnham is ready for regeneration and the abundance of cheap affordable housing and business premises is there for the taking. Jonathan has taken the worst looking building on the skyline and turned it into something amazing again. Well done

By Andrew Twentyman

Good to see this development. Miss Leigh.

By Janet Atherton

Love your enthusiasm Jonathan ! What a privilege and honer it must be for you to invest in the building you used to look at all those years ago when you where a nipper! Keep up the good work! Ward and Goldstones could do with a revamp !

By Carol

It’s fantastic what Jonathan is doing for the town. I was in Loom Wharf on Sunday and it’s a great achievement. Keep up the great work.

By Paul Sculthorpe

As a newcomer to the area, I have recently been visiting both Wigan and Leigh for the first time.
Compared to some other Northern towns, there does indeed seem to be a much more well managed approach to regeneration. Leigh and Wigan seem proud of their industrial heritage and on keeping the use of the intriguing old red brick buildings and mills and making them relevant to today. I have noticed a good balance of family-friendly and commuter-type residences.
Neither town has quite the dead feel of some of the mill towns.
A huge advantage to Wigan is the railway, and sadly a huge disadvantage to Leigh is its lack of one. However it is close enough to Manchester be a commuter base and near enough to Wigan to take advantage of the London trains.
I have a number of friends who have moved into both towns for just these reasons. Some with families and some are single. It can be overlooked in the North, just how affordable housing and travel is compared to London and even with paying for regular train fares to and from, my friends feel their quality of life has vastly improved since their move up.

By Kay

The Mill is a truly great, historical building. I think it takes a great deal of passion and determination to take such a monolithic structure and re-purpose it with local & entry level buyers in mind.

By PM

Great that this amazing project is now launching. Wishing you the best success with this and future projects.

By Keith Hutchinson

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