A MASTERPLAN has been approved by council bosses for the regeneration of the heart of Leigh.

Proposals to improve the Civic Square, outside the library and town hall, are included in the new strategic regeneration framework, as well as encouraging more new business start-ups.

Council chiefs say this will be set against the backdrop of two major housing developments at either end of the town centre.

Just under 230 homes have been pledged for the former Bridgewater Business Park, off West Bridgewater Street.

And work is also well underway on the redevelopment of key sites off Chapel Street and Queen Street, also for housing.

Another focus will be fostering links with the canalside and reducing traffic through the town centre.

Cllr Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “We want Leigh to be a vibrant and attractive place to live, with a reinvigorated town centre which is at the heart of the community.

“It’s a town with rich history and a positive future, which makes it a big part of our growth plans.

“However, like many towns across the country, Leigh has been affected as people choose to spend money online rather than at high street stores.

“This plan is essential to defining a new future for the town centre and helps us to demonstrate a long-term vision, which is essential when bidding for additional resources, such as the government’s Levelling Up Fund.”

The framework was drawn up by following a major public consultation exercise, which generated more than 1,700 comments.

Before now, £1m has been spent on giving an upgraded look to Bradshawgate and improving CCTV coverage, as part of regeneration efforts.

This is part of the wider £5m Believe in Leigh initiative, which is promising fresh investment in Pennington Park and new youth provisions, to tackle anti-social behaviour issues.

Cllr Cunliffe added: “A number of the key issues raised, including tackling ASB and reducing the number of empty shops, have been addressed through the plans.

“Attracting development is critical to delivering our aspirations, and this framework articulates to developers the type and quality of development sought in the town centre and will help to shape emerging proposals.”