A MULTI-MILLION pound investment has been given to the council to explore two major cycling and walking schemes for the borough.

Around £3.7m has been received from the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Challenge Fund to enable the local authority and partners to look at the viability of two strategic projects.

One will connect Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley and the other will link Standish with Ashton via Wigan.

If taken forward, the schemes will link to other cycling and walking facilities to improve connectivity across the town.

They will also enable links to key destinations including schools, employment hubs and leisure and health centres.

Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “It’s a great step forward that we have received the funding to fully explore these strategic and major schemes.

“This development funding will mean we are able to work closely with our partners across the borough so we can strengthen our collective bid for the rest of the money needed to actually deliver these routes for our residents.

“The current Covid-19 emergency has resulted in a dramatic shift from use of the car and public transport to sustainable travel by walking or cycling, so our commitment to improving these types of facilities borough-wide is more important than ever before.”

Combined, the two schemes would cost around £36m and would be funded through the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, which is earmarked to support Greater Manchester’s aspiration to become a city-region where walking and cycling are natural choices for shorter journeys.

They would also improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion and will form part of the Greater Manchester Bee Network, which aims to create the largest cycling and walking network in the UK.

The Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley scheme would be split into a number of different sections, with the first section possibly starting by the end of this year. Following public consultation, the different sections would include:

  • Bridge over the canal in Leigh and new safe route to link the Loom with Leigh Sports Village and Pennington Park
  • Town centre access and public realm improvements In Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley
  • Improved links to the Guided busway, Hag Fold Station and Atherton Station

The Standish to Ashton programme would also be delivered in stages.

The first stage would be the improvements to Smithy Brook Road, which have already been agreed following public consultation.

The work would include highway improvements at the junction, which will eventually connect the A49 and M58 link roads.

There would also be improved road safety for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst maintaining junction capacity.

Further proposed work as part of the Standish to Ashton scheme includes upgrades to the canal towpath between Wigan town centre and the borough boundary near Gathurst.

Improvements could include surface repairs, drainage clearance, lighting and improved signage and seating.

Coun Molyneux added: “These are two very complex schemes, which are made up of a number of other projects, some of which have already been approved in isolation to support other elements of our transport and infrastructure work.

“We hope that residents and commuters can see how all of these schemes combined are vital in ensuring a joined up and connected borough for road users of all kind.

“We have been open and honest with our residents about these plans, with many submitting their views and thoughts during consultation exercises, which will help to shape how these programmes of work are implemented.”

Following the scoping and development phase, the council will seek the further funding needed to bring each scheme forward for construction.

All programmes of work within these schemes will be subject to consultation with the public prior to delivery.

For more information, visit www.wigan.gov.uk/majorprojects.