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Town Centre Action: Public Has Its Say
Wednesday 13th April, 2011

Council planners are thanking the public for their input into consultation and exhibitions about Wigan town centre.

Over 200 people talked to planners at their recent Grand Arcade public events and told officers what they ‘rated’ and ‘hated’ about the town.

They were seeking views on the Wigan Central Area Action Plan, which looks at what new development is required, where this should be located and how it will be delivered and funded. It will also set out what other improvements and infrastructure works, such as new roads and cycleways are needed to continue the regeneration of the town. A similar exercise will be undertaken in the future for proposed Leigh and Ashton Area Action Plans.

The town centre contains over 120,000 square metres of retail floorspace and attracts over 300,000 visitors per week. It’s well inside the UK’s top 100 retail destinations.

Director of economy at the council, Steve Normington, said: “We want as many people as possible to get involved in shaping the plan and the future of the town centre. The issues paper is an opportunity for anyone with an
interest in the area to let us have their thoughts on what the plan needs to address.”

The public used post-it notes to declare their pet loves and hates. They rated both the town's historic buildings and the new modern buildings such as the glass fronted Wigan Life Centre; they also rated the new shops brought to town by the Grand Arcade development.

The public’s top hates were the derelict appearance of the old town hall and the former police station; and the decline of parts of the Galleries and Marketgate centres; they also hated the lack of leisure and youth facilities within the centre.

Many people commented on the need to improve the station frontages, as they offer visitors their first impression of the town – and which the plan is scheduled to look closely at. And there were a number of comparisons between Wigan and town centres in Warrington and Bolton – both favourably and unfavourably.

In response, planners are talking to major landowners and businesses about the future of the town centre. They still want to hear from the public too about exactly what they want their town centre to be, although many of the issues the public raised are already subject to detailed discussion.

The consultation on the Issues Paper runs until 25 May - details are online at www.wigan.gov.uk/wigancentralactionplan

Mr Normington adds: “Wigan town centre has many strengths. It is an attractive and busy place that has retained the feel of a thriving large market town. The area has a strong community that cares passionately about its future. There are also a series of well established partnerships involving local businesses, the council and others. We’re investing in improvements at the Saddle and on Wallgate and I’d like to thank everyone who took time to be involved in this dialogue about the town.”

Work continues on high profile improvements to Wallgate, with £1.2m investment in the street scene, and engineers report that the road layout changes to the Saddle Junction A49 are on programme. Please see the council’s weekly roadworks bulletin for updates.

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