Thursday, January 12, 2017

News: Council considers compromise over rejected market plan

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Rotherham Council is open to discussions with the new owners of The Old Town Hall having rejected proposals for a market in the prominent town centre building.

Rothbiz revealed plans put forward by the privately owned investment firm, FCFM Group Ltd, to build 11 permanent market stalls within the Old Town Hall which would be let on a commercial basis.

Having acquired the property at auction, the owners have invested in redecoration of communal areas, much needed maintenance, unit upgrades, resurfacing and jet washing of the central arcade, new lighting and new signage.

The market proposal was knocked back this week with Commissioner Kenny supporting officers recommendations that the plans be refused.

A Council policy delegates authority to the market service to licence, or if necessary, prevent through legal action, any rival market within a six and two third mile radius of any market already operated by the service.

The market service raised concerns that a second permanent market in the town centre could have an adverse effect on both the retention of existing businesses and the attraction of new businesses to the Centenary Market Hall.

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Cllr. Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, told the meeting: "While we are conscious that FCFM are investing in Rotherham we also have to make sure that it doesn't impact on our longer term growth plans, and especially in the markets where we have been working really hard to get markets increased.

"They [FCFM] have applied for a licence but they don't want to pay any market fees and there's no controls over who can go. There's nothing to stop them "poaching," for want of a better phrase, market stalls from our market."

Leader, Cllr. Chris Read, mentioned the effect of displacement rather than the creation of new businesses.

Damien Wilson, strategic director of regeneration & environment, added: "This is really important to set a marker for how we develop the town centre and the town centre offer. If we just accepted this proposal as it stands, there is the quite likely opportunity for current market traders in our markets to move into this market. The added value to the town is nothing, all we are doing is shifting occupiers around.

"There's nothing to stop us having further dialogue with FCFM, and it would be useful for us to sit down post this decision, just to say can we have a discussion about compromise where we can all benefit. There's nothing to stop us accepting a market in that area if it could be agreed that the terms were more sympathetic to developing the town centre. I.e. if they could attract new traders and not traders from the existing market.

"What we are all trying to achieve here is more footfall, more traders, different types of traders, and I think the current proposition [from FCFM] doesn't do that."

Rotherham Markets website

Images: LSH


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