A PROJECT is underway to revitalise Leigh's vibrant night-time economy following the lifting of a council order.

While once a big draw for a night out, Leigh's nightlife has been on the decline in recent years.

Some of the reasons for this, residents believe, is the rate of anti-social behaviour in the town centre and a council order which was introduced to tackle this.

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Leigh Journal: Leigh town centre was under a Cumulative Impact Zone from 2016-2021Leigh town centre was under a Cumulative Impact Zone from 2016-2021 (Image: Leigh Journal)

To address the "high levels of alcohol-related crime", a Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) was put in place in Wigan and Leigh Town Centres in 2016.

For a five-year period, this meant that new licences for bars, pubs, nightclubs and takeaways would normally be refused unless there were "genuinely exceptional" reasons that an application would not undermine the council's policy or contribute towards alcohol related crime.

However, recognising the "tremendous suffering" that the hospitality industry has faced during the pandemic, Wigan Council has now approved a motion to lift the CIZs in both town centres.

While anti-social behaviour is still an issue in Leigh, Councillor Keith Cunliffe, who put forward the motion to the council, said that the lack of a night-time economy is likely contributing to this.

Leigh Journal: Cllr Keith CunliffeCllr Keith Cunliffe (Image: Wigan Council)

Speaking at a Full Council Meeting in July, Cllr Cunliffe said: "In 2016 when the Cumulative Impact Zone was made [...] that was generally felt to be the policy that would benefit Leigh town centre.

"What we have seen since the pandemic is that the hospitality sector has been hit really hard.

"[Although] we see in other smaller town centres, such as Atherton and Tyldesley, a thriving night-time economy.

"I'm not saying the Cumulative Impact Zone has prevented people [from investing in Leigh], although it may have done, but I think it has been a deterrent for investment and business to set up."

Following the announcement that the CIZ has been lifted in Leigh until at least 2027, a partnership has been struck between Leigh Means Business and Salford University to try and create the foundations for a revitalised nightlife in the town centre.

Speaking to the local community, the project will look into what type of business people want to see in the town centre.

The report will then form the basis of a Neighbourhood Plan and put to Wigan Council, with the aim to encourage investment, attract more visitors, and create a more vibrant nighttime economy in Leigh.

Leigh Journal: Director of Leigh Means Business, Steven TomlinsonDirector of Leigh Means Business, Steven Tomlinson (Image: Steven Tomlinson)

Steven Tomlinson, director of Leigh Means Business, said, "We are really looking forward to working with the University of Salford on this project and excited about the potential opportunities it will highlight.

"The lack of a nighttime economy in Leigh has had a massive impact on the town centre and its in stark contrast to neighbouring towns and how it used to be.

"So restoring Leigh's nightlife to its former glory will have a knock-on effect on many other aspects of the town's economy and improve our image, which will drive further investment in other sectors."

Gordon Fletcher, lead for research at Salford Business School, added: "This is an exciting project. The night time economy is such an important part of national culture and yet is often left unconsidered when we talk about business.

"Bringing this opportunity for growth in Leigh out into the light will bring definite benefit for residents as well as existing businesses."