The three former industrial buildings include the former Way We Were Museum, The Orwell and the Education Centre.
Three iconic buildings at the world famous Wigan Pier are set for an exciting future with the opening of the window for development bids to be made.
Wigan Council has unveiled a six-week tender period for bids to be made to develop the three buildings at Wigan Pier – the council’s flagship regeneration project.
There has been significant interest from developers in the buildings, which stand next to Wigan Pier on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, in the year which marks the 80th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s landmark book ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.
The three former industrial buildings include The Warehouse, known locally as the former Way We Were Museum, The Orwell former public house, and the Education Centre.
The buildings are central to the Wigan Pier Quarter regeneration area and have attracted interest from across the region as a destination for investment and new industries on an iconic waterside setting.
The Wigan Pier Quarter has recently seen the development of the Pier Centre conference centre and performance venue, approved planning permission for a social, arts and café venue in a former industrial building next to the pier and Trencherfield Mill continues to attract interest from major employers as a new headquarters.
The tender process is being overseen by the council in partnership with commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton and the Canal & River Trust.
Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director of economy and environment, said: “We are pleased to be now welcoming formal bids to bring the Wigan Pier buildings back into use and regenerate this iconic location.
“There has already been significant interest in the buildings over recent months and we are excited to be starting the formal process of working with private sector partners to make a reality of this unique regeneration opportunity.
“We have had a mix of ideas put forward for the buildings including new office space, leisure and social destinations.
“At the end of the tender period we will review all tenders and choose a preferred partner or partners.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for a private sector partner to be involved in such a historic and iconic location and an important project for the future growth and regeneration of Wigan town centre.”
Simon Turner, director at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “Wigan Pier is an icon in the North West, and an important part of the history of the region.
“There is no hiding from the fact that over the past few years the site has started to become a relic of its proud history.
“Lambert Smith Hampton is delighted to be a part of the process of securing a development partner with the track record and passion to restore and redevelop Wigan Pier Quarter to its former fame, and in turn provide a catalyst for our clients’ ambitious vision for Wigan.”
To support regeneration opportunities the council has invested in new car parking facilities, created a community garden, is continuing to market and develop business at Trencherfield Mill and has hosted a major business event to showcase the Pier Quarter and its opportunities.
Wigan Pier was a coal loading jetty where wagons would unload coal on to canal barges and became famous through music hall jokes and its appearance in the title of Orwell’s graphic description of the plight of the English working class in the early 20th century.
In 2014 Wigan Council announced the start of a 10 year regeneration programme to create a 'New Road to Wigan Pier'.
The window for bids to be made closes on Friday 23 June.
The three buildings which define the Wigan Pier landscape
With a total of 23,200 sq ft the three storey warehouse was built in 1790 and served as an industrial warehouse and grain store until the late 20th century when it was converted into the Way We Were Museum. Its stunning timber interior has inspired a wide range of new use ideas.
Formerly Gibson’s Warehouse, The Orwell was originally constructed in 1777 and rebuilt in 1984 as The Orwell at Wigan Pier. Boats would originally moor inside the building and unload into the warehouse. The building has a total floorspace of 8,000 sq ft.
The Education Centre
Used to support education opportunities at The Way We Were Museum, the Education Centre has a total floor area of 4,500 sq ft.