Wigan students could soon benefit from a cash injection to revitalise the town centre and surrounding areas, if plans are approved by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority.
The multi-million pound plan – which hopes to boost the economy of eight towns across Greater Manchester – could see Wigan’s student facilities improved and a new cinema built.
The proposal, which went before council leaders on Friday, focuses on Wigan’s shopping arcade, the Galleries, being developed into a hub for the student population.
“We are hoping that there will be benefits for our students from the development of the Galleries given the proximity of the college” said Cath Hurst, Wigan and Leigh College Principle.
“The more we can work in partnership together to promote vibrant areas the better,” she added.
Many towns in the borough have suffered under the impact of out-of-town retail parks and Richard Paxton, the Galleries centre director, stressed the importance of innovation.
“Customer numbers to The Galleries have remained strong throughout and we are working with our current retailers to ensure their future success,” said Mr Paxton.
“The Galleries has an extensive marketing campaign used to engage with existing and potential customers.
“However, with strategic planning, partnership, working with stakeholders and other organisations we aim to continue to enhance the shopping environment and retail offer for our customers.
“These parties are working closely together to develop the right strategy to deliver success for the town.
“Although the investment fund has identified possible opportunities for the shopping centre, improving the infrastructure has also been identified as a primary objective and focus of the plan.
“This would benefit many businesses and improve access to our town centre.”
The council are also reviewing car parking costs, as well as pledging to look into the possibility of lowering business rates.
“Although Wigan has been hit less than other places, there has been a loss of footfall with the visible signs of empty shops,” said Wigan Council leader and chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) Lord Peter Smith.
“Unfortunately the Government is postponing the review of business rates which would have given some relief to shops in Wigan,”
“It is important that we help local businesses, jobs and amenities with a sustainable for a 21st century town centre.”