Town centre scheme escapes cull

Leigh town centre
Leigh town centre

Council chiefs have issued assurances that Leigh’s £1m town centre re-development is still on track despite changes to Wigan’s makeover.

The local authority dramatically shelved a £1.3m revamp for Wigan’s Market Place just days before construction work was due to begin.

Town hall chiefs pulled the plug on the project after new mayor and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham announced greater focus would be placed on improving town centres across Greater Manchester as part of the reformed spatial framework (GMSF).

A £1m redevelopment of Leigh town centre will continue on the same timeframe.

This will mean significant improvements to Bradshawgate and Albion Street.

High quality block paving, new modern seating, LED lighting and tree planters will transform the centre creating a much more attractive space for shoppers, visitors and businesses.

The council said it remains “fully committed” to schemes to boost Wigan’s town centre but no time frame has been given on when this plan may re-surface or whether it would be subject to a re-design.

Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said: “We are very grateful for the recent feedback from private sector partners, businesses and members of the public about the town centre plans.

“It is important that we review the Market Place scheme which was initially devised some years ago and ensure it meets the future needs of the town centre.

“I must make clear that the council remains fully committed to investing in the town centre and to supporting town centre retailers and businesses.”

The redesign was due to create a large plaza style complex, making it easier for large scale events to be held.

A construction company had been chosen following a tender process with renowned artist Chris Brammall commissioned to create striking street furniture features.

However, the final designs, unveiled earlier this year, attracted a mixed reaction from the public.

A Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) project to redevelop the town’s bus station remains on track and will start later this year.

This will last for around 18 months and will create a state-of-the-art bus station to improve connectivity on a modern public transport system.

It is hoped that the hold on Market Place will reduce inconvenience for members of the public while the bus station redevelopment is on-going.

But the Market Place scheme was “on hold to ensure it aligns with wider aspirations for the town centre” the council said.

Mr Battersby added: “This is a crucial time for the town centre’s future and it is vital we make the right decisions for its prosperity and vitality.”

Mayor Burnham last week announced the GMSF would place emphasis on central redevelopment to prevent “town centre decay surrounded by urban sprawl.”