Lord Peter Smith (Lab) is to step down as leader of Wigan MBC after 27 years.
Lord Smith has said he will continue as a councillor and lead member for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.
He added: “Now is the time for the council to face up to new challenges with new thinking and I wish my successor well. I am particularly looking forward to spending more time with my supportive wife and family.
“I will continue with the important task of delivering a successful devolution of health and social care for Greater Manchester as well continuing to serve the people of Leigh West.”
Leading figures in local government have paid tribute to Lord Smith.
Former Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein said: “Peter has been one of the most inspirational leaders to be found anywhere in local government and has been a force for good in Wigan and Greater Manchester.
“I will always be grateful to him for the support he has given me over many years.”
Wigan chief executive Donna Hall described Lord Smith as “an incredible leader”.
She added: “He is decisive, intelligent and always prepared to be courageous with a fierce dedication to improving the lives of our residents and we will miss him hugely.”
Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese (Lab) described him as “the glue that held Greater Manchester together”.
“Without his leadership we would not have achieved a devolution deal with more decisions now being taken locally than anywhere else in England,” he added.
Wigan’s Labour group is due to select its new leader at a meeting on 14 May.