The council has started the search for a partner to help deliver a £125m overhaul of The Galleries, the 440,000 sq ft shopping centre it bought in March last year.
The council expects to pick a preferred partner in 2020 for the wide-ranging redevelopment, which will be focussed on mixed-use with a preference for repurposing existing surplus retail space.
Options for the £125m redevelopment could include adding hotel, residential, leisure, education, healthcare, or flexible work spaces, with a cinema or bowling alley also suggested. Improving the area’s night-time economy is also a focus of the project.
Wigan Council has pitched for “a scheme of a high architectural and urban design quality” as part of its brief, with improved connectivity with the wider town centre also a priority.
As part of the move, the council is looking to provide new facilities for the indoor market within the site, which it said would “help to improve both the quality and mix of market stalls and to increase the market’s prominence on the high street”; the council’s initial vision is to relocate it inside the former Marketgate building.
Three potential partners are expected to be shortlisted for the development partner role, with a development agreement likely to be finalised in 2021.
The council bought the site in March 2018 from Luxembourg-based Colcastor Sarl for an undisclosed sum, in a deal part-funded by the council receives from Manchester Airport, where it is a shareholder along with Greater Manchester’s nine other authorities.
Asset manager Vales Retail gained planning consent in 2015 for a £60m overhaul of The Galleries, which proposed turning the centre’s 150 separate units into 26 larger shops, in order to attract restaurant operators and a cinema. The plans were never progressed.
Wigan Council is planning to hold engagement sessions with existing traders within The Galleries ahead of drawing up firm proposals with its chosen partner.