|Towns pull together to boost local economy
This month, councils across Greater Manchester will come together to consider a plan to boost their local town centre’s economy.
Wigan is one of eight councils looking at ways to attract investment into the town centre, which like others, has suffered with the rise of out of town retail and leisure developments, and online shopping.
Council chiefs across the region are working together to produce a plan, which if approved by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority at its meeting this March, could see a recyclable funding pot used to revitalise town centres, with returns from investments used to fund further town centre projects across the region.
Experts in the public and private sectors have worked together to analyse the unique character and potential for development in Altrincham, Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Wigan, providing recommendations to boost the local economy of each.
The first stage of the plan includes building new offices and commercial developments, residential units and broadening the leisure and night time economy. Further opportunities include education, new workspaces, investing in the public realm, growing independent businesses and using vacant buildings. Recommendations for Wigan include a cinema and other improved leisure activities and shops aimed at the student population.
Leader of Wigan Council and chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), Lord Peter Smith, said:
“Out of town developments and online shopping has changed consumer habits in recent years – having an unprecedented effect on the local shops and economy of town centres.
“Although Wigan has been hit less than other places, there has been a loss of footfall with the visible signs of empty shops. Unfortunately the Government is postponing the review of business rates which would have given some relief to shops in Wigan.
"It is important that we help local businesses, jobs and amenities with a sustainable for a 21st century town centre."