Green light for key town plan

Atherton town centre
Atherton town centre

A borough town centre masterplan has been approved.

Wigan Council has given the green light to the Plan for Atherton and it was due to appear on the council website today if not called in for further scrutiny.

The document highlights issues the centre of Atherton faces and suggests ways it can take advantage of its location and infrastructure to draw more visitors and boost the economy.

Ward councillors welcomed the focus on Atherton, saying work on improving the town needs to start as soon as possible but also voiced concern the town hall has not specifically said how much money will be invested.

Wigan Council leader David Molyneux said: “It is hoped the masterplan will establish an investment framework, increasing opportunities for investment and promoting the town to developers, and feed into local planning policy.”

If there is no challenge to the Atherton document it will sit alongside similar plans which have already been drawn up for Wigan, Leigh and Ashton.

It says Atherton has some of the best transport connections in the North West, with three motorways close by and two railway stations in the area along with the Leigh to Manchester guided busway.

In the town centre the document says the Market Street heritage area around the parish church and Ena Mill Designer Outlet are major opportunities for development and regeneration, while the streetscape along Market Street should also be spruced up.

One of the top priorities in that area, the document says, is a canopy along Market Street to keep shoppers dry in poor weather. New and existing businesses will be supported and pop-ups will be encouraged to help newcomers establish a customer base.

The council also wants more houses near the town centre and has highlighted four areas for development around the town: Gibfield, land to the south and east where outline planning permission for huge new housing estates has been given, Logistics North and Hulton Park.