Projects underway as part of £5m Believe in Leigh fund
• Key sites already being developed for housing
• Long-term future vision for the town centre almost ready for you to have your say
Ambitious plans to improve connectivity, build new housing and drive investment into Leigh are underway.
After the Covid-19 pandemic led to a temporary pause, Wigan Council has made progress on developing the next phase of the £5m Believe in Leigh project, with some schemes already taking shape. In addition to themes identified by the public, including Leigh Market improvement, youth provision and better safety measures, the council is also placing a heavy focus on improving walking and cycling facilities as well as developing vacant and underused sites.
And, next month, the local authority will consult on a Leigh town centre Strategic Regeneration Framework, outlining a long-term vision for the town centre. In January, residents and businesses will have the opportunity to give their views on the plans, which aim to drive further investment into the town centre.
Deputy Leader and Leigh East ward councillor, Keith Cunliffe said: “To date, we have spent around £300,000 of the fund on improvements to public areas and anti-social behaviour mitigation by installing additional CCTV and improved street lighting.
“Though the pandemic did lead to some delays, we have been working hard to ensure we can deliver on the key themes, which local residents identified as important to them. We also look forward to sharing our Leigh Strategic Regeneration Framework with the public, so they can clearly see how we propose to invest and improve the town centre in the short, medium and long term.”
Officers are currently exploring proposals to improve Leigh Market hall and a new, quality cycling and walking route will be created linking Leigh Sports Village with Pennington Flash. It is hoped that this scheme will be completed in time for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup next autumn. The route will also form part of the Greater Manchester Bee Network, which is funded by the Mayor’s Challenge Fund.
Enhancements to Civic Square are being explored, which will be delivered as part of a wider scheme with Leigh Turnpike Gallery to improve access to cultural activity in the town centre.
Coun Cunliffe added: “This is a huge piece of work and it’s imperative we get it right.
“We also know that Pennington Flash has been identified by the community as an area for improvement so from next year, we’ll work with our partners to look at how we can deliver additional parking and an information centre to enhance the visitor experience. In the meantime, we’re focusing on the other strands of the project, including bringing forward areas for development. Work has already started on the former BICC site on West Bridgewater Street to create more than 200 affordable homes.”
Believe in Leigh money will also be used to pay for an additional escape staircase in Leigh Spinners Mill, which will not only help to protect a valuable heritage building, but will enable the space to be let, leading to opportunities for community provision or start-up businesses.
The Believe in Leigh fund was created to respond to community feedback and was subject to its own public consultation. The results have been supplemented with those from The Big Listening Project, which concluded last year. The work comes at an exciting time for the town, which will play host to the Rugby League World Cup next year.