George Orwell would be happy.The next chapter of Wigan Pier’s regeneration story has been written today with members giving the green light to the widely anticipated regeneration proposals at Wigan Council’s planning committee.
The decision means developer Step Places, cultural organisation The Old Courts, Wigan Council and the Canal and River Trust can collectively transform the currently vacant 18th century industrial buildings into a vibrant cultural and residential offer.
A wedding venue, gin-distillery, micro-brewery, food hall and waterside town houses are just a few of the highlights of the iconic Wigan Pier site, which will now be developed when building starts in August 2019.
Two separate applications were discussed at the meeting. The first application related to the change of use of the previous Orwell public house, Heritage Centre and The Way We Were Museum to a gin distillery, micro-brewery, food-hall, wedding venue and events space.
The second application related to the development of eight three-storey, canal side gated residential town houses, with parking and landscaping included.
The work is an important part of Wigan Council’s ‘Strategic Regeneration Framework’, which is the authority’s masterplan and future vision for the town centre.
Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “The collaborative plans we have for Wigan Pier will completely rejuvenate the area and will connect the Pier Quarter to the town centre much more seamlessly.
“We are confident that that local people, visitors and those with an interest in the Pier buildings will welcome this formal decision and will also enjoy seeing this 18th Century site be brought back into modern use.
“We’re working hard to develop a new offer that will attract visitors, which includes culture, leisure and employment opportunities.
“We’re also really pleased to see a residential offer included in the vision which will ensure we have a mixture of homes available to suit our residents and is a key ambition outlined in our Strategic Regeneration Framework’.
“Wigan Pier is a huge step-forward in creating this offer and it is great news that the work can now really begin. As always, we will continue to keep the public informed of the development as it progresses.”
In addition to the change of uses and the development of residential space, new public realm has been designed to encourage people to visit the area and spend quality time outdoors while enhancing the waterways and outside spaces.
Harry Dhaliwal, Managing Director of Step Places, said: “Today’s decision is a defining moment for both the Wigan Pier development and the future of the area. We are looking forward to starting work on the scheme alongside our dedicated partners and creating a truly outstanding destination with high quality spaces that Wigan can be proud of.”
Rebecca Davenport, Director, The Old Courts, added: “We are delighted to receive the green light on this project. An enormous amount of time has gone into shaping this vision and we feel that has been fully bought into with the passing of the plans. As expected, activity at the site is attracting a lot of interest and we’re confident, the end result will make people excited, proud and happy and I’m sure we will see further leaps forward in Wigan culture.”
Ian Sprott, development surveyor at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “We are proud to be working in partnership to create a vibrant destination on our historic waterway and are delighted the scheme has secured planning consent. Spending time by water is proven to be good for people’s health and happiness and this project will attract more people down to the waterside and experience the benefits of spending time by water.”