Business & Skills Hub, Event Space, Café
Entrepreneurial hub, café and event space to attract new and existing businesses and a presence for Wigan & Leigh College.
47% of people in the borough commute outside of the area to work whereas the average figure for the Northwest is 13%. This is around 10,000 workers that live in Leigh but work elsewhere.
There is a lack of office space and amenities in our town that is needed to cater for skilled workers and the businesses that would employ them.
Manchester is the tech hub of the north with record numbers of Londoners moving to the region. Companies like Boohoo.com and AO.com have joined the 1,000s of digital companies based there. It’s not just talent and companies that are attracted to the city. Manchester is also the epicentre of northern start-up activity with many budding entrepreneurs being drawn to the region.
With the increasingly popular Manchester Guided Busway providing an excellent link to the city centre, Leigh is in an ideal position to attract the talent in the city, who often work remotely. As well as offering a more convenient place to work locally, the hub would also allow local students to gain experience working with tech companies and start-ups to build our own pool of home-grown talent.
The key to place making in town centres is to have a strong mixture of purposeful buildings. One of the key underutilized public spaces in Leigh is our Civic Square. Already containing St Mary’s Parish Church, Leigh Town Hall and Turnpike Centre, the square can easily become the heart of Leigh.
Our proposal is to create a purpose-built entrepreneurial hub on the underutilised car parking site at Drs Nook that has already been identified by Wigan Council as a key development opportunity, adjacent to the other local landmarks. The hub will offer new ways of working to individuals and companies, inviting people back into the town centre whilst retaining car parking underground. Additionally, there is a huge opportunity to vastly improve the public realm in the civic square, complementing the improvement proposals along Market Street. As this will be a key building within the town centre, it will also help to improve the footfall and support the growth of new businesses within the catchment area.
The pandemic has changed how we work, there is no longer the need to commute into busy city centres or out-of-town business estates, since people and businesses adapted well to working from home rather than in the office. However, our homes aren’t the best spaces to be productive, people need to disassociate themselves from home and work. This is where the model Leigh Works, the first entrepreneurial hub in the borough, are pioneering comes into play. Providing much needed space to work, collaborate and create innovative ideas.
More than just office space, the hub will contain labs, workshops and high-tech manufacturing units. Making technologies like 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC machining available to businesses, start-ups and students. Working closely with Wigan & Leigh College, students would be able to gain experience with the many businesses based in the hub as well as having their own dedicated space.
There would also be a café and event space on-site to compliment the business offering but also open to the general public. The event space could hold cultural events such as live music or act as a theatre, as well as expos and business events.
This development will serve up to 400 skilled workers, bringing talent into our town as well as growing our own talent and keeping it here. The event space and café would attract and serve visitors from out of town. All this would create 1,000 follow jobs locally and add £56million per year to our economy.
- High skilled Jobs in the town centre
- Growing and retaining talent
- Improving the town's image
- Attract businesses, workers and visitors
- 400 FTE jobs
- 1000 follow on jobs
- £56million GVA