Monday, December 19, 2016

News: Council cornering the market


Rotherham Council is set to block plans for a rival market in Rotherham town centre.

Market Franchise Rights are used by the Council to manage the markets that take place within the borough and ensure that the retailing environment created is successful. The legality of who can hold markets stems back 800 years when it is thought that the original royal market charter was granted by King John in the year 1207.

With the Council operating the main 88 stall market around the Centenary Market Hall, it set out its latest policy in 2013 which states that any nearby market requires a Market Rights Licence granted by the Council. The policy states that if a market is established without first obtaining the necessary licence from the Council, the market will be considered to be unlawful and the Council will take whatever legal action is deemed necessary to prevent that market from operating.


The new owners of the Old Town Hall in Rotherham town centre have approached the Council in respect of operating a permanent market within the rejuvenated building.

Commissioners are being recommended to refuse the licence when they meet early in the new year.

The majority of the converted Old Town Hall was snapped up by an investor earlier this year having first failed to sell at auction. Converted in the 1980's into an attractive shopping arcade, the Grade II listed building is home to the likes of Games Workshop, the Crafty Tea Parlour and John Norris Greengrocers.

New owners, the privately owned investment firm, FCFM Group Ltd, has since invested in redecoration of communal areas, much needed maintenance, unit upgrades, resurfacing and jet washing of the central arcade, new lighting and new signage. Renamed "The Mall," it has also attracted new and relocating retailers with rental offers.

As it looks to improve footfall to the arcade and create a vibrant, ground floor retail space, FCFM's proposal sets out a plan to build 11 permanent market stalls within the Old Town Hall which would be let on a commercial basis.

The 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. It also includes a scale of charges based on the market size. The charges for a market in the Old Town Hall would be £31,200 per annum.

The owners are also asking that the licence fees due to the Council are waived.

A report to the commissioners from Dean Thurlow, markets operations manager at Rotherham Council, warns: "The market service is concerned 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.

"The proposal would be likely to benefit the Old Town Hall but with the risk that this would be at the expense of the Centenary Market Hall. The proposal would not generate any income to the market that could be used to help mitigate this risk."

It adds that refusing to licence the new market "will avoid the risk that footfall and spend will be diverted away from the Centenary Market to the Old Town Hall, resulting in a loss of trade for existing market hall tenants."


The occupancy rate at the indoor Centenary Market Hall fell to 78% over the summer but new businesses have recently opened which raised occupancy back to 87%. The Council is worried that the loss of income to the Council would outweigh the potential income opportunity. The overall income target for the markets service is just over £1m.

An option to grant a licence to operate in the Old Town Hall for six months with no licence fee in order to become successfully established has also been rejected by officers.

The Council said it would continue to work constructively with FCFM around the attraction of new tenants, marketing and the delivery of events to assist in improving footfall in the town centre.

This month saw new operators officially launch the Bazaar in the covered outdoor market. Selling a range of Asian clothing, freshly cooked cuisines, jewellery and accessories, the Bazaar operates on Thursdays.

Rotherham Markets website

Images: LSH


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