Tom Hargreaves

My Place | Wigan

There’s more to Wigan than just pie shops: reinvigorating the high street and driving the night time economy will need to be the catalyst to get wider development under way, writes Tom Hargreaves of Anderton Gables.

When you think of Wigan, you instantly think ‘pies’: after all, Wigan is home to the National Pie Eating Championships!  Nevertheless, there is far more to the town than first meets the eye. For instance, did you know more than 70% of the Wigan borough is green and is the greenest urban borough in Britain?

So why has Wigan been stuck in a rut for so long? And what developments are on the horizon to ensure that the town keeps abreast with its pace setting neighbours such as Preston and Bolton?

For transport, the new A49 link road is due to open in Spring 2020. This new stretch of road will help alleviate congestion around the Poolstock area and reduce journey times between J25 of the M6 and the town centre. A second phase known as the M58 link road is due to start on site in 2020.

Wigan already has fantastic train links, but Andy Burnham’s recent aspirations for a new tram-train route between Wigan and Manchester via Atherton would be another welcome alternative to the daily battle down the M62. And looking forward, the Government’s HS2 roll out looks set to include Wigan, allowing high speed rail travel between the capital in 84 minutes, which will be integral to driving local business growth.

The face of the high street is changing as we well know. The troubles of big high street names are not lost on Wigan either, with another big name in Marks & Spencer due to depart Standishgate later this year. Redevelopment of the Galleries has long been on the Council’s agenda, with potential uses for the site recently reported as being a mixture of residential, food and drink, leisure, and possibly a hotel. A development of this nature is a ‘must’ for Wigan as the town centre economy evolves.

The balance between day time and night time economy, too, should not be ignored. The area around King Street only springs to life late at night these days, looking rather pitiful during daylight hours.

The much-anticipated Wigan Pier mixed use development will be a welcome addition, providing a new food hall, bar and event space with enabling works now underway. It is hoped that this development including a residential element will completely rejuvenate the area around Wallgate, seamlessly connecting the Pier Quarter to the town centre. A number of bars have recently appeared within Queen Street arches, demonstrating a new emerging night-time economy in an area where further development would again be very much welcomed.

Wigan has the potential to be a great place to live, socialise and do business, being home to some of the friendliest people in the North West: where else can you ask for a pie on a barm cake and not be frowned upon?

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Nothing brought my soul to worse despair than Wigan in the winter months when I worked there, a miserable place to commute into, get about around and do much of anything else. Industry and warehousing is in such proximity to the centre so as to render the whole area car dominated and characterless. Expanses of brownfield land blight the landscape amidst unclean and unsafe canal pathways. At least HS2 will allow for a quicker escape.

By Desseisor

You had me at ‘Pie on a barm’

By Tha'knows

Desseisor, did you last work there in 1937? If so I say it’s beautiful compared with Sheffield…!

On a serious note, the countryside adjacent the slip road from the M6 J25 is better than any northern town approach, open green both sides and with views of Winter Hill and the North Pennines, but which is about to be filled and blocked with industrial units; shame.

By Eric B

mmmmmm Pie on a barm…..

By Same Old Housebuilder Bashing

What about food shopping for poeple who can’t drive it’s a disgrace that a town centre has no supermarket used to have great market hall but it’s so depressing now instead of making everything all about leisure think about the people who can’t drive and need to do food shopping

By Angry resident

Tom Hargreaves you are either living in a parallel dimension or sadly suffering from some delusional disorder…..Having lived here and may I add trapped here effectively for a number of years I cannot agree with your synopsis. They we can manifest our reality….well I’m hard to manifest my way out of here.

By Ian Hall

Should say…”They say we can manifest our reality”…
Ian Hall

By Anonymous

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