Wigan Council is investing £2m to improve and modernise three public areas across Wigan and Leigh.
In Wigan, Market Place will be refurbished with the current walls and benches removed and replaced with a water feature, an open seating area and trees.
The redesign will cost £1.3m and will be paid for by the council who have made supporting town centres a top priority as part of its new "deal for business".
According to the council, Market Place in Wigan is currently unsuitable for large scale events as the surface is uneven and constrained by a network of stone walls. Under the plans, the walls would be knocked down, the whole area would be resurfaced.
Nearly £1m is to be spent on Leigh's main shopping street. The outdoor market will be moved from Albion Street to a central strip on Bradshawgate – giving it increased visibility and improving access to stalls.
The relocation of the outdoor market will mean a new improved entrance to the indoor market and the Spinningate Centre can be created. In addition, both Albion Street and Bradshawgate will be revamped. Trees will be planted, the roads will be resurfaced and new lighting will be installed.
Cllr David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: "We all know people's shopping and leisure habits are changing. We've got to make sure our town centres are fit for the future and that's what this significant investment by Wigan Council is all about.
"These two schemes involve total transformations of the most high profile parts of central Wigan and Leigh. In both towns, we will be creating a modern focal point for the whole community. Our investment, added to other public and private investment, will help the town centres remain competitive in the future and will ultimately be good for local businesses."
The council will work with local businesses to minimise disruption during construction – especially Leigh market traders. Work will begin next year and will be complete by 2016.
The schemes have been designed by landscape architects Re-form. A contractor has not yet been appointed.