Government funding secures future for Wigan’s historic high streets

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Royal Court Theatre

Confirmation of central funding for two key heritage projects in Wigan borough has been welcomed by delighted council bosses.

Around £2.7m will help High Street Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) in Wigan and Tyldesley town centres become a reality as part of a Heritage England scheme.

For its King Street HAZ plans, Wigan Council is providing match funding which, along with private sector and other sources, will see investment of around £2.5m.

The Tyldesley project, driven by community group For Tyldesley and supported by the council, is the only bid of its kind in the North West to receive government funding.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, heritage champion at Wigan Council, said: “This project will help us retain the character of our town centre, conserving buildings and putting them at the heart of our regeneration and growth plans.

“We’re delighted that the funding has now been confirmed for these exciting proposals to make King Street the go-to place for cultural and leisure activities – and we’re equally thrilled for the Tyldesley bid.”

King Street has traditionally been a focal point for entertainment and commercial uses, but in recent times its historic character has deteriorated.

The plan aligns with the council’s cultural manifesto – The Fire Within – and Strategic Regeneration Framework for the town centre – which outline long-term ambitions for a more diverse offer for residents and visitors.

Wigan Council is leading the delivery of the King Street’s HAZ in partnership with a range of community, education, cultural partners.

The refurbishment of the Royal Court Theatre owned by Arts in the Mill CIC (known locally as The Old Courts) is seen as one of the key catalysts for the regeneration of King Street.

Rebecca Davenport, director of Arts At The Mill said: “We are delighted that King Street is getting the regeneration it deserves, it’s a place rooted in heritage and culture and we believe it can be a thriving place once again.”

The organisation has also received additional funds from Power To Change to support the regeneration of the theatre building.  

Wigan Council and partners will begin a programme of community and business engagement events and activity over the next few months to explore what King Street means to residents and help shape the vision for its future.

Coun Halliwell added: “The launch of the Heritage Action Zones comes at a very opportune time for the Council as we are preparing to launch our draft Historic Environment Strategy for public consultation at the end of month.

“The Historic Environment Strategy celebrates our fantastic heritage and sets a framework for the conservation and management of our historic environment together with businesses, residents and all in our community.

“Securing funding through HAZ helps make this vision a reality.”

The Tyldesley HAZ includes plans to refurbish buildings such as Frank’s Café and the Grade II listed Top Chapel.

Through close working with Wigan Council the library will be relocated to Tyldesley Town Hall whilst new uses for the old library building will be explored.

Catherine Dewar, North West Regional Director for Historic England said: “Our high streets bring people together. They are places to socialise, shop, run businesses and be part of our local community. We are delighted to be working with Wigan Council and the For Tyldesley CIC to deliver these improvements.”