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News article created on 1 June 2015

Canal to transform Leigh town centre

Artist impressions of how Leigh town centre could look using the canal system as the catalyst for further regeneration show ambitious plans for the transformation of the town.

The Leeds & Liverpool and Bridgewater canals are an integral part of Leigh town centre and part of the town’s industrial heritage when coal and cotton was king.

Now a consortium of organisations led by the Canal & River Trust, Wigan Council and the Bridgewater Canal Company are working together to promote the historic waterways as the centre of the town’s renaissance.

Vision of the future

The artist’s impressions offer a vision of the future for the town, building upon the existing investment that has already taken place including the £50 million Loom shopping and entertainment centre which is adjacent to the Bridgewater Canal.

Work is already underway to refurbish the Engine House at Spinners Mill with plans for full renovation of the building for community use.

Exciting plans also exist to refurbish the canal side Mather Lane Mill into 120 apartments which would breathe new life into the important Grade II listed building built in 1882.

These are on top of attractive new homes for sale alongside the canal at Plank Lane, which is already the home for a new 30-berth marina due to open for business in the autumn.

Leigh Canal Festival

The Canal & River Trust and Wigan Council have already secured over £25,000 in funding to improve the canal entrance at King Street Bridge and to help involve young people in organising Leigh Canal Festival to be held between 11 – 13 September.

The town wants to promote a modern image of the canals as a linear park used by all and offering a haven from the busy modern world, which is a far cry from grimy image of the waterways of the 1800s.

A healthier way of life

Deputy leader of Wigan Council, councillor David Molyneux said:” These artists’ impressions give a fantastic perspective of what the future might look like – and it’s exciting. The canal network is at the heart of Leigh and as the canals are transformed so will the town thrive, bringing new jobs, prosperity and a healthier way of life to the people of the town who appreciate the hidden gem that is the canal system.

“Leigh’s meandering canals now carry cheerfully painted boats on leisure cruises and the quiet towpaths offer welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the road network to walkers, joggers and cyclists.

“The quietly rippling water provides a picturesque view for the new businesses we hope to create as well as the existing homes, restaurants and pubs that front onto the canal and offer a vital safe haven for wildlife including ducks, swans and herons.”

Canal & River Trust waterway manager, Chantelle Seaborne said: “We want to make a real difference to Leigh’s waterways and the areas around it. The Canal is a linear park, and we want local people to use it, boat on it, live near it, enjoy volunteering, take part in the canal festival, and even create or expand a business next to it. If you’ve got an idea about how to make this happen then get in touch with us.”

If you are interested in getting involved in volunteering or want to help organise the Canal Festival email: volunteer@canalrivertrust.org.uk