FORMER Leigh MP Andy Burnham has returned to the town he served for 16 years to spread the optimism of a new regeneration scheme.

The Greater Manchester mayor joined Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith at Compassion in Action on Leigh Road on Monday to talk about the Town Centre Challenge.

Plans to deliver more than 1,000 new homes in the town, extra business space and better connection for walking and cycling was discussed in the meeting.

Greater Manchester cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman was also in attendance along with key stakeholders including landowners, developers and community groups.

Mr Burnham said: “The Town Centre Challenge is all about working across our 10 boroughs to regenerate town centres in all corners of Greater Manchester.

“Leigh, as Wigan borough’s nomination as their location requiring special focus and targeted regeneration, is clearly a place close to my heart.

“Regeneration of these sorts of urban areas is a key priority for me.

“The Challenge provides councils with a significant opportunity to deliver real and sustainable change.

“I know how much people care about Leigh town centre and as mayor I have new powers to bring to the table to help Wigan Council realise their ambitious vision.”

Plans for residential developments at Hilton Park, Turnpike House, Leigh Spinners Mill, Westleigh waterfront and the former BICC site on the West Bridgewater canal were discussed.

Proposals to boost the town’s culture and tackle homelessness was also mentioned.