Friday, 26 September 2014

Charter Market consultation continues amid concern about its future look

Lancaster Charter Market. Image: Lancaster City Council

Further public consultation on the future layout of Lancaster’s Charter Market is due to take place after recent consultation with Charter Market traders and the business community showed that there are a range of different views about how the market should be set out.

Some market traders have expressed dismay at proposals that included cutting the size of pitches and are already up in arms after the lengthy "Square Route" renovations that have damaged their business over the summer months.

As part of the City Council's consultation, two further layout options are being drawn up which the Council says aim to balance the needs of the market traders, businesses and shoppers while making best use of the city centre following the completion of the recent improvement works. 

In addition to this the consultation will ask a range of questions that will help the council make the best decision.

As well as the views of market traders, businesses and shoppers, issues such as access for emergency vehicles, street cafes, street cleansing and traffic management will be taken into account.

Lancaster has been a market town since 1190, but lost its indoor market after a hard fought battle to save it against a background of poor management and an inept plan to sell the building to a now-bankrupt company, which virtual-lancaster helped expose. The battle to save the indoor market and the treatment of stall holders has not been forgotten, even though some of the council staff responsible for the disaster have now left the organisation.

“The council wants to see a thriving market and the challenge is try and achieve that while best accommodating the different uses of the city centre," insists Mark Davies, Chief Officer (Environment).

“A balance has to be struck between the needs of different users and there’s clearly a difference of views on what the final layout should be.

“Some good ideas and input have come from both market traders and businesses and these are now being used to help produce drawings of what the two layouts could look like.

“All the views from the consultation will feed into a report to be considered by the city council’s Cabinet.”

The further consultation will seek views on a number of questions which will help decide what the layout should be like.

In particular the council is interested in finding out is what people think the council’s view of the market should be:

•       Is it something to facilitate and manage day to day with the main priority being to ensure that there’s enough pitches for traders, in the locations that best suit them?
•       Is it something to actively manage and develop in a way that best complements the other trading activities in the city, as well as the other aspirations for the city?
•       Should it be seen primarily as an attraction in the city centre that makes the centre an attractive and vibrant place, that is then managed to take account of other users and to make sure it achieves high standards?

The answers to these question will significantly contribute to deciding on the layout.

Cabinet members could choose either layout or a different combination for the future layout of the market.

More details on the consultation will become available after the two proposed layouts for the Charter Market have been drafted.

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