LEIGH is set to be selected as the town centre Wigan Council are putting forward to receive funding for a Greater Manchester regeneration project.

The Town Centre Challenge is on the agenda of the council's cabinet meeting tomorrow, Thursday, at 3pm at Wigan Town Hall with a document already on display recommending that Leigh should be the borough's choice to benefit from the bid.

Greater Manchester mayor and former MP Andy Burnham is inviting the region's local authorities to nominate towns which will benefit from more housing opportunities, venues for events and public sector hubs as part of the challenge.

The report said: "Leigh Town Centre is a secondary town with a rich, illustrious history and an exciting and vibrant future and which meets all the necessary criteria for the Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge.

"Members will recall the approval of the strategic masterplan document which

identified Leigh to have a multitude of inspirational regeneration and growth


"For the first time in a long time Leigh is no longer turning its back on its historic waterways but is instead using its famous canals as catalysts for change.

"The council’s commitment will help to regenerate Leigh to make it

a more welcoming and attractive centre for shoppers, visitors and businesses.

"In addition opportunities will be explored to identify residential development

opportunities close to the town centre to support vitality."

The town has recently benefitted from the £4 million Believe in Leigh Fund which will be used to pay for improvements at Pennington Flash Country Park and activities for young people including the creation of 'safe zones'.

Money was also set aside to repair the roof of Leigh Miners Welfare Institute.

A further £1 million has also been invested into the regeneration of the Bradshawgate area.

The report added: "Nominating Leigh for the GM Town Centre Challenge will help accelerate regeneration, facilitate further investment and provide the additional resources

needed to help ensure transformational change towards the east of the borough.

"Building on the continued success of the Leigh-Salford-Manchester Guided

Busway, which has facilitated the delivery of a new housing offer, we are keen to

embrace support from the private sector to help accelerate development and

regeneration in the town."

Atherton is one of the other towns in the borough which has expressed an interested in being nominated for the challenge.

A petition set up by Atherton Residents Association chairman Stuart Gerrard has attracted more than 1,100 signatures since it was set up on Sunday with a target of 5,000 so it can be discussed in a council meeting.

He said: "I think it is a decision that had already been made prior to the initiative's announcement.

"Leigh are still putting the finishing touches to the latest £5 million investment it has received yet Atherton, who it seems is always the poor relation, gets nothing again.

"I certainly do not believe Leigh falls into the forgotten town category.

"The retail parks, sports village and cinema complex rules that out.

"This is a real kick in the teeth to Atherton and I am sure when the decision is made they will make their feelings known."