The Galleries Wigan
Wigan Council has unveiled a new era for Wigan town centre with the acquisition of one of its largest shopping centres in order to drive forward far-reaching regeneration plans.
Wigan Council has acquired The Galleries shopping centre to deliver the regeneration of the centre after years of stagnation and decline.
New diverse uses for The Galleries will be identified by the council and new retailers will be sought to breathe new life into the centre, alongside retention of its most popular stores.
The acquisition of the centre is part funded by the dividend the council receives from Manchester Airport as a shareholder along with the nine other Greater Manchester councils.
The investment helps fulfil Wigan Council’s side of The Deal to support the local economy to grow.
The purchase also includes the Makinson Arcade and Marketgate.
The move by the council follows years of decline for The Galleries, which covers a huge site of six acres in the middle of Wigan, with a historic lack of investment.
The Galleries was built in the 1970's and was very popular in its heyday but is now more than half empty with a dated design and changing modern shopping habits, including online retail and out of town centres, contributing to its difficulties.
The council fears if this decline is allowed to continue it will have far-reaching knock-on effects for the wider town centre and could possibly close altogether creating a huge mothballed site in the town centre.
The current and future loss of business rates for the council has also contributed to the decision, with changes in how councils are funded meaning councils are increasingly reliant on business rates to fund vital services.
Real estate specialists CBRE have now been commissioned by the council to create a future plan for the centre with a masterplan to identify more diverse uses to match current and future trends and the modern economy.
New potential uses for the centre, alongside its retail offer include leisure, food and drink and residential development.
This will create a more vibrant town centre and support retailers with increased footfall.
Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council is committed through The Deal to support our local economy to grow and prosper.
“For too long The Galleries has suffered from a lack of investment.
“This has been detrimental for the town centre and for the people of the borough who love to shop in Wigan town centre and have watched The Galleries decline with sadness.
“Doing nothing is not an option.
“The council is now investing for the good of the town and the local economy.
“This is an exciting new chapter for Wigan town centre.
“We have the opportunity to deliver the once in a lifetime regeneration that will transform the centre with new residential and leisure uses.”
The Galleries, which covers 440,000 square feet has 82 retail units, Marketgate has 35 units and Makinson Arcade has 27 units.
Wigan Council is not alone in local councils investing in their local shopping centres to deliver regeneration schemes.
Recent examples of councils investing in their town centres include Stockport Council, Rochdale Council, Chorley Council and Sheffield Council although the amount Wigan is initially investing in The Galleries is much lower in comparison.
The potential for more residential housing units in the town centre fits in with the broad aims of the Greater Manchester Spatial Strategy.
Wigan Market traders will be consulted with over any future changes the purchase of The Galleries will have on the market with the priority being to bring new and improved footfall to the market.
CBRE will develop a 90 day plan as well as a long term vision for the site and will also manage the asset on behalf of the council in the first 12 months.
The investment in Wigan follows £5m pledge for Leigh town centre with £1m already invested in the regeneration of Bradshawgate and the outdoor market.
The council is committed to supporting its towns in the east of the borough with economic masterplans being drawn up for Atherton and Tyldesley which will be unveiled later in the year.
The town will also benefit in the medium to long-term with the arrival of HS2 – with Wigan North Western becoming the gateway to HS2 in the North West.
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