Future of Burnley Market on ‘knife edge’

Burnley Market Hall.  A280112/4
Burnley Market Hall. A280112/4

The future of Burnley Market Hall remains on a knife edge after Burnley Borough Council confirmed that “all options remain open” for the site.

Leading councillors reiterated their earlier plea to the public to support the market as the council’s ruling Executive Committee pledged £257,000 in the next financial year.

The subsidy would help to establish new, cheaper rents for traders, and also be used towards more advertising and promotion.

An independent consultant had recommended remodelling the Market Hall, relocating to premises on the ground floor or building a new Market Hall – none of which the council is willing to take on.

Head of facilities management Colin Hill said the recommendations would cost between £3m. and £6m. which was not an option for the council at this current time.

He said: “All the options require significant investment which we cannot afford.

“If these new measures do not work then all options must remain open including finding an alternative us for the site.”

Mr Hill added that the council was starting to see “the signs of an accelerated decline” which could see the market hall become more than half empty if nothing was done.

Council leader Coun. Mark Townsend said: “This is an extremely important issue. It’s indisputable that a huge amount of work has gone on this year.

“It cannot be underestimated that the financial appraisal is extremely worrying. We hope to reverse that trend but it’s going to take a significant amount of effort from the council, traders and the public.

“If it falls down we will face some serious questions. We also have to be fair to traders outside the market.

“We are giving this a serious shot with some serious investment but it’s going to need everyone to play their part.”

Coun. Shah Hussain, the council’s Executive member for regeneration and economic development, called for traders to “think outside the box” against the growing threat of online shopping and discount shops.

He said: “Like every other market in the country it faces tough competition from pound shops and cut-price supermarkets and Burnley Market Hall has to find its own unique selling point that brings customers through the doors.”