In 2018 Wigan Council spoke to more than 6,000 residents in 83 locations across the borough to find out what matters to them as part of the Big Listening Project. In total we received more than 10,000 ideas.
The future of our town centres was one of the top priorities identified through the consultation: town centres are important to our residents and they want to see them thrive. The council’s corporate strategy – Deal 2030 – is based on the feedback received through the Big Listening Project, with ‘Vibrant town centres’ set as one of ten key objectives.
Residents told us that they want more leisure opportunities in the town centre that cater for a much wider audience, including families. They also expressed views over having more facilities to promote an evening economy, for example more bars/restaurants/cinema, escape rooms, ice rink. Lots of people referenced the need for a more “bespoke” offer, including an artisan market and independent shops, cafes and restaurants. Frequently mentioned throughout the Big Listening Project was the idea of introducing more residential housing in the town centre as a way of keeping it alive both day and night.
Residents also told us they often choose to spend their disposable income outside of the borough for leisure as the offer is not strong enough here. Also, there was recognition that as many people work, the town centre 9-5 offer was not accessible for them.
In 2019 a separate survey exercise took place online and face to face in a vacant shop unit in the Galleries following the launch of the procurement process. The survey launched on 1st November 2019 and ended on 6th December 2019. A total of 710 responses were received. During this survey, which included open and closed questions, only 11 per cent of those asked were satisfied with the current offer in Wigan town centre.
These results reinforce the earlier comments gathered during the Big Listening Project – supporting the proposals for redevelopment.
As part of the pre-planning consultation in May 2021, a project website was set up together with a community information telephone line, and this has been widely advertised, together with a virtual exhibition room. The Council has also ensured that hard copies of the various information and documents could be supplied for anyone without internet access.
A report on community engagement has been submitted by Cityheart as part of the planning application.