While Manchester City centre continues to sprout skyscrapers and a new food hall is announced every five minutes, poor old Wigan has been in a bit of a blind spot for development. But Wigan Civic Centre is about to get a modern makeover.
Wigan is starting to get a look in on the development front, with a £135m project to redevelop the Wigan Galleries shopping centre including plans for 218 homes, a new market building, leisure centre and a hotel underway.
Now, Capital&Centric, of Manctopia TV show fame, have revealed their proposals to develop the town’s vacant Civic Centre building - the one with the big sculpture of a face in front of it.
The brutalist 1970s building on Millgate will not be demolished but its concrete charm enhanced and carefully restored by the hotshot developers behind Manchester City centre’s Kampus and Crusader Mill. The plan is to create 32,000 sq ft of modern workspace complete with coffee shops, ‘creative spaces’ and even a roof garden.
In collaboration with Wigan Council, whose offices and chambers were once based in the building, Capital&Centric’s proposals include ‘incubator spaces’ for startups to get their businesses beyond the ideas stage, and larger offices for those already established.
“We’re taking the brutalist 70s architecture of Wigan’s most iconic town centre building and adding a bit of spice,” said Capital&Centric Co-Founder Tim Heatley on LinkedIn, “With original concrete buildings constantly being flattened – it’s important we preserve what we can.
We’re going to turn it into the best office space outside of Manchester- with creative spaces where people want to hang out, bursting with lush greenery & a design that elevates the OG features.”
John Moffat, Joint Managing Director of Capital&Centric, said, “Who says Manchester has to have the monopoly on cool work spaces? Post pandemic, people are re-assessing where they want to work, and this space could easily provide a base for ambitious and creative start-ups who want a cost-effective alternative to the city centre or somewhere closer to home.
“We’re suckers for a restoration. We’ve as much respect for these bold 70s creations as we do the majestic mills that have a hundred years on them. They’re part of the architectural narrative of the nation and – at a time when loads of these mid-century concrete buildings are being flattened – it’s important we preserve what we can.
“The bones of the civic centre are solid, it just needs some vision to create the next chapter. We want to prove we can deliver one of the best office spaces outside of Manchester, with creative spaces where people want to hang out, greenery and sensitive design that elevates the original features.”
Sounds good to us. It will be interesting to see the final planning application for Wigan Civic Centre when it is submitted later in the year.