Wigan Council’s masterplan for the town centre, including the redevelopment of The Galleries, the creation of small business hubs, and building new homes, is set to be given the go ahead this week.
Working with a team of Deloitte and Gleave 23, the council has identified a series of short-term and long-term schemes to boost development in the town centre, including retail, residential, and offices, as well as improved public realm and better links between the town’s railway stations.
For offices, the council is exploring options for Grade A accommodation around its railway stations, ahead of the potential arrival of HS2. The council is also looking to use existing buildings to provide larger floor plates of around 8,000 sq ft for established SMEs, alongside smaller offices of around 2,000-3,000 sq ft for start-ups.
After purchasing The Galleries, the 440,000 sq ft shopping centre in the retail core, last year, the council is now looking at options, which will be decided on later this year.
A development brief is being prepared for the Galleries, including the town’s market hall, with a partner to be selected to bring forward a major redevelopment. The council has also identified the need for more hotel accommodation within the town centre.
A £60m overhaul of The Galleries, pictured below, which proposed turning the centre’s 150 separate units into 26 larger shops to attract restaurant operators and a cinema, was approved in 2015 but the plans were never progressed.
The 1980s shopping centre covers a six-acre plot in the middle of Wigan.
As well as the leisure offering, the council is also considering further options such as partnering with a higher education or university provider to establish a campus in the town centre.
There are also plans to enhance the town centre’s residential offering, likely brought forward by the council with a strategic partner, following the success of Gleeson Homes’ scheme at Frog Lane. Many of these short-term interventions will be carried out over the next two years, ahead of longer-term objectives coming on stream at a later date.
The council is set to endorse the strategic framework for the town centre at a meeting on 24 January.
Cllr David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “This plan is an important step in defining a new future for Wigan town centre.
“It is a blueprint for our aspirations but also an honest assessment of what we need to do to get there. There is currently an oversupply of retail space and the council needs to act to develop a new offer to attract visitors such as culture, leisure, employment and residential uses.
“It is clear the Wigan town centre of the future will be a very different place to what it is now, and this plan will enable that diverse offer to be delivered.
“We are fortunate to be in a strong position to seize these opportunities.
“With HS2 coming to Wigan, new link roads being built to make journeys to the town centre faster and easier and exciting plans coming forward for the Galleries, I believe we are at the start of something very special for Wigan town centre.”