Major plans for Haigh Hall revealed

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photo of Haigh Hall

Major plans have been revealed to transform Haigh Hall into an arts, culture and heritage visitor destination of national significance following extensive engagement with residents.

The masterplan, which was developed following a conversation with residents last autumn, features a vast collection by the Wigan born visionary artist Theodore Major, worth £200m.

In September 2021 residents were invited to Haigh Hall to share their memories and dreams for the future during a month-long conversation. In total 764 people came with hopes and ideas to inspire and shape the masterplan of the jewel in Wigan’s crown.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for leisure and culture at Wigan Council, said: “Haigh Hall belongs to the people of Wigan and since bringing the hall back under the council’s control we are doing everything we can to protect the hall for our future generations, which includes securing funding.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came along to share their stories and ideas last autumn. I think the masterplan really captures the feedback; bringing everyone’s ideas to life to ensure people can enjoy the hall and the new treasures within it.”

The masterplan will be available for residents to view and comment on from this weekend (Friday 13 May) when the doors to Haigh Hall open once again. Paper copies will be available inside the hall and online. Residents will be asked to complete a short survey to give their feedback on the masterplan.

The masterplan and feedback from the conversation will be submitted to government as part of Wigan’s bid to Levelling Up Funding in July. Wigan is applying for £20m to bring the masterplan to life, with match funding from the council.

The Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux, commented:

“We were extremely disappointed to miss out on Level Up funding last year, particularly as the borough was identified as a ‘priority place’.

“The plans for Haigh Hall will bring important economic benefits to the borough through our Community Wealth Building programme, with local contractors helping us to transform the building and local employment opportunities available.

“All three of the bids being submitted on behalf of the borough have strong business cases and I hope the government appreciates and recognises that this time round.”

Creative Director’s Al and Al, said:

“It was an absolute pleasure to meet so many people in the hall and have tea and cake in the Vestibule. Everyone shared their passion for Haigh Hall and we discovered many treasured memories and hopes for the future.

“We are coming back to see everyone soon to share what they told us they would like to see in the hall and to share the future masterplan each one of them has inspired.

“The vast majority of people want to see Haigh Hall become a beacon of culture, celebrating its magnificent heritage. Since the first conversation last autumn, we have worked closely with the family estate of Theodore Major and secured £200 million pounds of treasure created by one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century who was born and worked his entire life capturing life in Wigan. The Major at Haigh Hall reimagines culture and heritage destination for the 21st Century.”

Wigan Council has committed £4m from its own budget for external repairs to the fabric of the hall, with listed building consent submitted earlier this year.

A bid for £4m will be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund this month to improve the park, with £2m council match funding already agreed. Proposals include restoring the Plantation Gates and Lodges and old cottages behind the walled gardens. For more information about this programme visit: Heritage (wigan.gov.uk)

During the conversation, residents revealed:

  • 85.5% want culture and heritage in Haigh Hall
  • Hospitality, with restaurant, cafe and bar will also form large part of the offer with 63% speaking of its importance.
  • 51% of people want to celebrate special occasions at the hall with the family, weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries.

As part of the cultural visitor destination, the masterplan includes an underground tunnel experience including bunker cinema and cellar bar, a terrace café, a rooftop celestial bar, a restaurant, events, and performance space.

Before the plans are submitted for funding, the public will be invited to view the masterplan at face-to-face sessions taking place at the hall this month and online.

The vestibule will be open Friday 13th – Sunday 15th May between 11am – 3pm and Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd May between 11am – 3pm.