Leigh is up for the challenge!

Leigh is up for the challenge!

Leigh square

Leigh Town Hall

The town of Leigh has been chosen to be part of a high profile urban regeneration challenge spearheaded by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Wigan Council has chosen Leigh to be in Andy Burnham’s new Town Centre Challenge initiative to regenerate town centres across Greater Manchester.

The challenge invites all ten councils across Greater Manchester to nominate a town to be part of the initiative.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester will then work with each council and bring together housing providers, public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders in a concerted effort to support local councils to unlock the potential in town centres.

A key focus will be on delivering new housing in town centres with powers under compulsory purchase orders available and investment from a new housing deal supporting the challenge.

Wigan Council’s cabinet agreed that Leigh should be the town put forward by Wigan Borough.

Cabinet members agreed that Leigh had many existing strengths but also significant regeneration and growth opportunities.

Karl Battersby, director for economy and environment, said: “Nominating Leigh for the Town Centre Challenge will help accelerate regeneration in the town and bring in new investment to realise the huge potential Leigh has.

“Leigh is one of the borough’s two biggest centres and by attracting investment it will have a positive knock-on effect for the surrounding area in the east of the borough especially for towns such as Atherton which are very close by.

“The council has already committed major investment for Leigh with £5m to be spent there in the coming years and the town centre challenge will really enhance that on-going work.

“We hope the challenge will kick-start new developments in the town centre which will provide a transformational boost to Leigh and build on the continued success of the Leigh-Salford-Manchester Guided Busway.”

Mr Battersby said that while there had been protests in Atherton about Leigh being chosen the council could only choose one town and an assessment process had been undertaken to support the Cabinet decision.

Leigh town centre has a strong business and retail community with a thriving indoor market and a local catchment area of 120,000 people.

However, like many other towns across the UK Leigh has been affected by changing shopping habits with fewer shops than a decade ago increasing the number of empty units.

In 2013 a Greater Manchester Town Centre study predicted there would be 31 per cent fewer shops in town centres by 2020.

Wigan Council has recently completed town centre masterplans for Wigan, Leigh and Ashton-in-Makerfield and masterplans for Atherton and Tyldesley are in development.

The masterplans identify how the borough’s town centres need to play a significantly different role for local communities with housing having a more important future role.

Having more housing in town centres supports the Mayor’s agenda to reduce the amount of greenbelt used for housing.

Many town centres have no effective housing market due to costs of development, mixed land ownership and a low end value of any schemes.

To see the Leigh town centre masterplan visit: www.wiganworks.com

Posted on Friday 8th December 2017
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