LEIGH is to benefit from a major investment boost this winter.
New parking, landscaping and even a new footbridge over the Bridgewater canal are on their way following an agreement between private developers and the council’s Leigh town centre management group.
Business leaders, officers and elected councillors had decided that more than £550,000 paid by private developers as part of projects currently taking shape in Leigh will be used for a series of improvements to the town centre. And the first stage of the works began this week with the demolition of the derelict former London and North Western Railway railway arches at the end of Chapel Street to make way for a new car park.
The historic structure carried the main line from Springs Branch to Manchester via Tyldesley until closure by the British Railways Board in May 1969.
It has remained a stubborn token to a long gone railway age for the last 40 years.
Although residents continue to campaign to have the town - said to be the largest conurbation in England not to be rail served - reconnected to the national network, few will be sorry to now see them go.
Council cabinet member for the environment Coun Kevin Anderson said: “Leigh is seeing huge amount of investment and it is a tremendous vote of confidence in the town’s economy to see new retail and leisure developments.
“The council has worked hard to bring the new cinema, shopping and restaurant sites to Leigh and there’s further investment to come.”
Planning officers have designed a ramp to replace the stairs between the new development on the south side of Spinning Jenny Way and the Spinning Gate Shopping Centre.
Funds have come from Section 106 Agreements - a local government levy attached to the current developments around Leigh town centre.
These are a legal part of the planning process whereby developers make a contribution to local facilities as part of their planning permission.
And in urban areas and town centres, this often takes the form of road infrastructure and parking improvements.
Coun Anderson said: “Supporting the local economy is a priority for the council, especially in the current climate.
“Here we have an opportunity to use developers’ funding to improve the look of the town, encourage access for shoppers and make important changes such as ramps which will especially benefit pram and wheelchair users.”
It is also now hoped that the next stage of development at the new Bickershaw marina will start early next year.
While work currently being done by the environmental charity Groundwork to improve canal towpaths means better conditions for walkers along the canal.