LOCAL historic buildings play a large role in preserving our town’s rich heritage and our community’s proud identity.

Although we must continually innovate to regenerate our towns, we should also take advantage of our existing historic buildings by putting them back into use.

You only have to look at both Ena Mill and Victoria Mill to see how successful this can be.

Ena Mill, a stunning Grade II listed building, has been transformed by local entrepreneurs into a fantastic retail space, with a variety of shops, food and drink.

Victoria Mill has also been regenerated, offering pool, snooker, indoor paintballing and even a zombie survival experience.

Not only do these fantastic projects preserve our iconic local buildings, these retail and entertainment hubs are right on the doorsteps of local residents, encouraging more people to shop local and leading to reinvestment in our towns.

Despite these retail projects being a success, disappointingly, Wigan Council has not been as welcoming of bids from local groups to put historic community buildings back into use.

Instead, Wigan Council is happy to take your money through taxation, without investing it back into the local community.

Formby Hall for instance, a community hall gifted to the Atherton people more than 100 years ago, was once used to hold christenings, weddings and other local events in the heart of the town.

After hearing about the plans to demolish the building, I joined local residents’ campaign to save the historic hub.

Unfortunately, we lost this campaign and Wigan Council not only oversaw Formby Hall’s destruction but also failed to provide a replacement community centre.

This is why I am continuing to support Atherton Community Trust’s campaign for Atherton’s old library to be turned into a community space for everyone to enjoy, a campaign that has strong local support.

More than 800 people have signed a local petition for the handover of the old library and Atherton’s independent councillor Stuart Gerrard has also supported the plans in the council chamber, asking for a feasibility study for a community building in the town.

A community hub like this would be fantastic for local residents and the proposals to use Atherton library would also see the preservation of another one of our town’s historic buildings.

Despite these positives, the local Labour leadership rejected Cllr Gerrard’s plans for a feasibility study, which would have brought the fight for a new community centre a step closer to becoming a reality.

It is great to see that Atherton’s historic mills have been successfully redeveloped and preserved.

So why is it the case that the local Labour leadership are not willing to show the same level of support for community-led regeneration projects that will benefit so many of Atherton’s residents?

What’s your thoughts on Chris Green’s column? To give your opinion email newsdesk@leighjournal.co.uk.