Leyland Market is set to move into a temporary home while a major refurbishment of the facility takes place.Advertisement
Details of where and when traders will be relocated are being kept under wraps for now, but the leader of South Ribble Borough Council says that the authority is close to finalising the plans.
It is all part of the long-awaited £38m transformation of Leyland town centre, which will also see the creation of a new market square and business hub, along with a radical revamp of the main shopping street, Hough Lane.
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The refurbishment of the market building was always going to cause some upheaval for stallholders, one of whom told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that they had collectively been presented with a choice of either staying put and the work being done around them or moving out for the duration of the job.
Rebecca Whittaker, owner of Whittakers Butchers, said that the refit would have taken much longer had the building remained open – if that option had even proved possible – so the consensus was to decamp to another location. However, neither she nor her fellow traders have yet been advised where they will be selling their wares while the building is shut.
“There was talk of putting us in something like a pre-fab, or maybe accommodating some of us in [the neighbouring] Balfour Court, where the old Barclays bank was.
“We don’t want to all be split up, though – some over here and some over there – because that would be taking away everything that the market is.
“My preference is to stay as close as we can to where we are now, but there isn’t that much room. Whether they can temporarily house us on the new car park that will be built on the Iddons factory, I’m not sure – but that would be great
“[The plans for the refurb] look very good and I think it will be fantastic – it will regenerate the town centre,” added Rebecca, who hopes that the retailers will have a meeting with the council around the turn of the year in order to get an update on the plans.
South Ribble leader Paul Foster told a meeting of the authority’s corporate, performance and budget scrutiny committee that the council was “almost at the point now where we have a contingency plan in place to get the market moved temporarily, so we can move in and start heavily refurbishing [the building]”.
He also said that demolition of the former Iddons factory, next to the existing market car park, had been delayed by the discovery of “far more asbestos than we thought was possible”.
Papers presented to the committee state that a second phase of site investigation work on that plot – where the new BASE2 business hub, a car park and residential development will spring up – will be completed “over the next quarter”, ahead of the building being taken down.
Cllr Foster revealed that there had also been changes to the approach being taken across the whole Town Deal project, which, he said, would save money while delivering “potentially better economic outcomes”.
“[Under] the original strategy, we were going to demolish some buildings and then rebuild… and, in the interim, the tenants [would] be out of a home for 12 or 18 months. We don’t need to do that, we [can] just heavily refurbish the existing buildings that are there – [and] that…keeps the tenants in place while we’re working alongside them,” Cllr Foster explained.
He added that “stakeholder engagement” with all of the businesses and individuals affected by the plans was vitally important and would continue, following a recent drop-in event.
The scheme is being funded by the £25m that Leyland was awarded from the government’s Towns Fund, while South Ribble Borough Council is investing £13m from its own coffers.
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What’s the big idea?
The LDRS approached the council for details of which buildings were now going to be retained and also for further information on the market relocation.
In a statement in response, Cllr Foster said: “We are really excited about the Leyland Town Deal, and working hard to make sure that it is the massive success that we know everyone wants it to be.
“The area will see a multitude of exciting developments and improvements to the town centre and the market.
“We continually review the plans and one of the key elements will be the refurbishment of the Leyland Market, in which we are working closely with the market traders to make sure that any disruption is well-managed.
“We will always keep our residents, visitors and local businesses up to date and we thank everybody for their support whilst we make our borough thrive,” Cllr Foster added.
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