A persistent criticism of big infrastructure developments is that they generally only benefit places which are already well ahead – in essence, the argument goes that we tend to spend money giving even greater advantage to the places that probably need it the least. The perfect example of this is, of course, London. Recent estimates show that the capital will receive approximately £1,500 more per head for transport than the Northern cities.
So when looking at HS2 it is a pleasant surprise to see that smaller places along the route are set to see significant benefits as well. A great example of this is Wigan in the North West.
The town is already a fantastic position for businesses which need to rapidly move goods around the region. The M6 is instantly accessible, and there are great links to the local port at Liverpool which is a major import and export hub. The introduction of HS2 will only improve the situation, allowing Wigan to become a true national logistics hub.
The local council are planning a future comparable to that of Lille in France. Previously Lille was of a similar stature to Wigan until the mayor campaigned for a high speed rail link which has transformed it. From a humble starting position, Lille is now the third largest business centre in France. Whilst nobody expects Wigan to become quite that large, the potential benefits are clear to see. Wigan should have high speed trains coming into it by 2026, making it an even more attractive destination than it already is.
The new railway line will put Wigan on the map as a UK business destination, a status that will help draw in money and talent to take the town to the next level. All of a sudden you will be able to live in the Midlands and easily commute to Wigan if the job is right, or vice versa.
In the meantime, Wigan is doing a good job of preparing for this new future. The council has purchased the Galleries shopping centre and is busy making plans to turn it into a modern leisure destination to improve the town centre. Robin Park, the area around DW Stadium, is also going through a large scale redevelopment, and the area around Wigan Pier is also being regenerated to provide a contemporary mixed-use district.
Unsurprisingly, the population of Wigan is growing at the moment, with much more growth predicted in the future. This is a town which is taking great strides into the future and this is the perfect time to invest in Wigan and take advantage of the growth of this town.
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