Latest Colne market plans still divide opinion
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Updated plans include a new food court or food hall at the front, and apartments at the back. Supporters say this will attract new customers and boost the market and wider town.
But critics say existing market traders face uncertainty with two years of relocation for building work and no guarantee of a future place at the redesigned hall. A Poundland shop in Colne town centre may be used as a temporary home for some stall holders for two years.
The market hall project is proposed under Pendle Council’s Pendle Together joint venture. Previous Colne market plans over the past year or so have divided opinion. Some market stall holders fear they will be priced-out of future developments. However, supporters of change say new amenities are needed.
‘BUSINESSES PUSHED TO ONE SIDE’
Damien Hunt, speaking for some market hall traders, said: “I have read the levelling-up prospectus. It has phrases about bringing people together, giving pride, bringing economic benefits and binding communities together.
“The current plan for Colne market proposes closing the market for two years, developing flats for resale and other measures. There are currently 25 businesses there employing a number of people. The hall has the only deli in Colne, the only fresh vegetables shop, the only record shop, a second-hand clothes shop and even a business where you can get portraits.
“Did you know there was so much in it? Probably not. You can also buy white goods , cards and vintage items. These are the businesses that will be pushed to one side without care or consideration.”
He added: “A lot of businesses are not accommodated in the new plan. A cafe owner was told she will have to close. There was some crying at the meeting. People were told they would have to leave the meeting if they couldn’t stop crying.
“There are lots of questions but few answers.”
However, other people spoke in favour of the market hall plans.
‘WE NEED TO CRACK-ON WITH THIS’
Aneesa McGladdery is a manager at Colne Business Improvement District, which uses a local tax, collected from town centre businesses to invest in local improvements.
She said: “We have waited for quite a long time for something to happen at the market site. Colne has been a market town since 1120 and it needs to stay a market town.
“When I took on the BID role two years ago, I wanted to support the market. I have great memories of the outdoor market as a child and want to support that. We want to support the indoor market hall too and promote the whole market.”
Jane Turner, who has opened a wine shop in Colne and is also developing holiday accommodation, said: “I think communication has been awful by the council. But the market hall needs work doing There is money in the pot and it needs to be redeveloped. We need to crack-on with this.”
Lib-Dem Coun Dorothy Lord added: “I don’t think people are really against improvements. Their unhappiness is about the way this has been gone about. There have been changes here, changes there. Now, it’s suggested they all go to Poundland, which is about to become vacant. However, there’s not enough room there."
Lib-Dem Coun David Whipp, the new deputy leader of Pendle Council, said: “There is no doubt that the market hall project has been badly bungled. It has been kept under wraps. There has been no consideration by the PEARL joint venture, which I’m a board member.
“We need to look at this in the light of day rather than a shroud of secrecy, which we have had so far.”
TEMPORARY SPACE FOR TRADERS
In the past, Coun Whipp said one proposal was to move market traders to a space at the bus station site near the hall. That would have allowed them to keep trading nearby while building work was underway at the hall.
He said: “That would be a better solution rather then moving everyone out for two years, and seeing businesses dispersed or closed without a centre of gravity.”
He said the new council executive should not approve a set of recommendations about the market hall in a report.
Instead, a market hall working group should formed with two executive councillors, two Colne Town Council members, two Colne Area Committee members and two market traders. They should produce a report for the executive’s next meeting.
‘LONG TERM PROSPERITY’
However, Pendle Council’s new Director of Place, said: “I think the first point to make is that I and colleagues have attended meetings, It is very clear there are concerns and issues. We have heard this loud and clear.
“Communications could have been better and must be better, going forward. We have a new officer team and communications will be at the heart of our approach. We need to bring business tenants with us. This is about long-term prosperity for Colne and market businesses. The building needs to improved and invested in, if it survives.
“The levelling-up budget needs spending by March 2025. It’s challenging but it’s what we are working on. Regarding housing tenure, one of the recommendations says further work should be done. I understand there are differences of opinion.
“I think we can do things better. We want to work with businesses, make sure things are sustainable for the years ahead. I believe this is really important for Colne and businesses. ”