Greater Manchester town to benefit from millions in Levelling Up cash

Leigh town centre is to benefit from a £12.5million boost following the acceptance of a grant from the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF). Major improvements to Leigh Civic Square and the adjacent King Street/Market Street corridor with enhancements planned to the public realm and open space in the heart of the town.

This includes new paving, seating, trees and planting as well as new crossings and the narrowing of the roads to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists. A shop front and building grant scheme will also ‘incentivise’ private owners to invest in their premises and ‘enhance the vitality and attractiveness of trading space’.

The third stage of the plan is to refurbish Leigh market to ensure it has ‘a sustainable and vibrant future’. Wigan’s cabinet has agreed to accept the grant from the Secretary of State Michael Gove’s Departments of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

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The DLUHC is footing £11.4m of the bill with the remaining £1.4m coming from the council’s capital budget. Leigh is the second biggest town in the borough of Wigan. The council originally submitted three funding applications under round two of the LUF. Haigh Hall was awarded £20m while Ashton-in-Makerfield town centre received £6.6m.

Although the bid for Leigh was unsuccessful, in November 2023 the Government announced that LUF round three awards would be made to funding applications that had been considered as ‘high quality’ but had narrowly missed out under round two. “Leigh town centre’s funding application has therefore been awarded £11.4m on the basis of the original funding bid,” the report to the cabinet said.

It went on: “The successful funding bid provides an exciting opportunity for Leigh town centre to evolve into an exciting, vibrant and safe place for the communities it serves. The enhanced town centre will be more attractive and desirbalbe for businesses to invest and establish themselves, and for residents to spend time.”

It said the LUF projects are focused on the ‘core of the town centre’ but would benefit the surrounding communities in the wider catchment area. “Ongoing community engagement and participation will be an essential part of the successful delivery of the proposals,” the report added. “A consultation and engagement plan is being developed and will include a variety of means of engagement, including, webpages, press and social media and public consultations.”

The cabinet agreed to accept the LUF without further comment from councillors.

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