The council has approved a strategic regeneration framework for Leigh town centre, including several aspects of plans drawn up by community interest company Leigh Means Business.
Work on the council’s SRF began in 2019 with the authority seeking out public opinions on how to improve the town centre. It used that information to create the framework, which was approved by the council on Thursday. The framework includes enhancing pedestrian routes in the town centre, creating a work and skills hub for young people and improving Civic Square.
After contributing feedback to consultations on Leigh’s regeneration strategy, LMB decided to draft its own ideas in an effort to help strengthen the area’s bid for Levelling Up Fund money. LMB also aims to get funding from the council, central government and the National Lottery to make its proposals a reality.
“Everyone connected to this project shares a common passion for Leigh and are equally of the view that our town can be a bustling and thriving town again where the residents are genuinely proud of their town centre,” said LMB director Trevor Barton. “We want a centre with a daytime economy where there is a high commercial occupancy rate and a night time one where families have numerous eateries to choose from and where everyone safely enjoys the ambience.”
LMB’s ideas, which are similar to the council’s, include pedestrianising more streets, creating an entrepreneurial hub and re-landscaping the town square.
LMB’s plans have political support from Leigh MP James Grundy.
“I firmly believe that the regeneration of Leigh town centre should be led by both the local businesses based there and the local residents that work in and use those businesses,” Grundy said. “We need to harness the talents of the businesses and residents in our town to restore it to the way it should be, as older residents remember it – successful, and a source of pride.
“I look forward to working with LMB CIC and, I hope, Wigan Council, to deliver the regeneration our community so desperately needs.”
Steven Tomlin, another director at LMB and the co-founder of hotdesking and tech start-up space Leigh Works, noted that the SRF showed the council had listened to feedback LMB had given during consultations.
“We have been working alongside the council since the initial stakeholder consultation in 2019 and our input regarding collaborative start-up spaces was well-received,” Tomlin said.
“We are happy to see that the concepts and principles of Leigh Works have been included in the final draft of the SRF and we look forward to the opportunity to deliver a viable, flexible business space that will stimulate demand and retain local talent.”
Wigan Council’s acting director for economy and skills, Aidan Thatcher, said the council would continue to work with LMB and others on its strategic regeneration framework and subsequent plans.
“The SRF sets a flexible and robust vision for the town centre which will coordinate activity, shape development and guide investment,” Thatcher said.
“Many of the proposals put forward by Leigh Means Business reflect the overall approach of the SRF and the council will continue to engage with Leigh Means Business, along with other partners in the wider community, to secure the best possible future for Leigh.”
Here’s a look at key components of the two proposals
- Create a pocket park in town centre and make town centre greener with more green spaces, street trees, green walls and more.
- Provide more new homes of different tenures.
- Enhance bus station and surrounding environments
- Enhance pedestrian and cycle routes, including constructing a pedestrian bridge across canal to connect West Bridgewater Street and Canal towpath
- Create a work and skills hub for young people. Also enable the establishment of a flexible business space.
- Enhance the indoor market.
- Improve Civic Square.
Leigh Means Business
- Build an entrepreneurial hub on underutilised car park by Drs Nook. Hub would have labs, workshops, manufacturing units and a dedicated space for college students. There would also be a café and event space.
- Add digital signage by Spinning Jenny Way to showcase local events and independent businesses.
- Make Market Street in the town square more pedestrian friendly with new block paving and crossings geared towards decreasing traffic. This would lead to more al fresco dining and improve footfall.
- Re-landscape the town square so that it can hold craft and food markets, events and more.
- Extend Bradshawgate pedestrian zone, upgrade benches on the street and also promote recycling.