BURNLEY Market could be given a £765,000 face-lift in a bid to attract more visitors and link it to the highly anticipated Curzon Street shopping development.
A customer lift, paid for by developers Henry Boot, is to be built at the back of the Open Market area, on the corner of Curzon Street and adjacent to the new complex.
The lift would take shoppers from Curzon Street up to the Open Market, which would be improved by splitting it into two and creating an upgraded area more appealing to visitors.
The whole project has to prove to be commercially viable, but ideas being considered include up to five working craft stalls, nine casual stalls for daily letting, up to 30 permanent units, shoppers’ rest area, lockers and information point. The craft section would run through the centre of the market.
Traders in the existing Open Market would be given the option to move into five-day trading units while existing tenants in the Market Hall could relocate into the new area.
Council bosses, who say the market is still generating money for the town, said this in turn could free up a section of the Market Hall to house a cooking demonstration area. An additional smaller daily trading area would also be created for new goods traders. The remaining area, which includes the toilet blocks, would focus on second-hand goods.
The proposals, which are in the early stages, will form part of a consultation process with residents and traders - but, vitally, the whole project is subject to it being justified on a commercial basis.
Mr Colin Hill, Burnley Council’s head of markets, said: “The ‘in-principle’ agreement to consider future investment at a time when a number of other markets are under close scrutiny as to whether they should continue to operate or not, is very welcome. Burnley Market still generates a cash surplus for council taxpayers’ benefit, albeit substantially less than years ago, but this will only continue if we are able to both retain existing and attract new traders.”
Of the proposed £765,000 investment, £325,000 will be used to replace the Open Market roof, which needs to be completely resurfaced.
Of the remaining £440,000, £50,000 is earmarked for Market Hall improvements, leaving around £390,000 for new flooring, lighting, heating, cooling, individual power supplies, partitioning, new units, fire lobby, separate fire and intruder alarms, customer information point and the infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi for users of the market.
Coun. Roger Frost, Executive member for environment, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to capitalise on increased footfall once the new development is up and running, and in doing so, not only provide our public with an improved shopping offer in the market, but also help sustain many businesses operating from the market.
“To take this forward we will need to be satisfied that this is something that council taxpayers feel we should be investing in, and by far the most visible sign of support from the public for the market and its future investment, would be for the public to use the market more.”
Council leader Coun. Charlie Briggs said: “The market has for many years been a focal point of the town and the proposed investment is about securing its future for our ratepayers and independent businesses that operate from the market, but in the process ensuring that it pays its way and does not become a financial burden to the council tax payer. That is why we need to consider this carefully on a commercial basis but hopefully with strong customer support to make this happen.”