A campaign group says running an artisanal food court could be the way to turn the tide of the struggling Burton market, which is losing tens of thousands of pounds a year.
Love Burton, the group hoping to end a controversial project that could see the Burton Library move to the Market Hall and traders relocate, believes operating an artisan food market and food hall alongside the Existing traders would guarantee a prosperous future for the market hall in the Marketplace.
Burton recently received £ 22.8million in cash from the government to regenerate the town and £ 7.3million could be spent to move the library from its building from Meadowside Drive to the Market Hall to increase the attendance in the city center. Another million pounds would come from Staffordshire County Council, which owns the library, to pay for the move.
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Campaigners claim the plan is a waste of money, would reduce current library service, and leave market traders without a room and moved to another location in town. They also don’t want to see the current library site lost to development.
However, the Burton Town Deal Board, which is in charge of the proposal, said moving the library to the market hall would secure the future of the market hall and increase attendance, which would be better for the city center. .
Board says if decision does not take place taxpayers will have to pay around £ 800,000 [in one go] in maintenance for the library building of the 1970s.
Love Burton member Trevor Wright told Staffordshire Live: “Food halls and markets are open in former department store buildings such as Worcester and Hull.
“Crewe has just renovated their hall as part of a regeneration plan, including a food hall. Derby is halfway through a project similar to the one we are proposing and they think it will attract people from the center of Derbion towards the old parts of the city.
“Stafford is in the process of creating a new market hall as part of its downtown regeneration plans funded in part by government grants.
“Even Coalville, just up the street, has moved their market to a new hall which will include a small version of the food hall concept. Many cities would give their last dollar to have our iconic Great Victorian Market Hall in their downtown area.
“This is something Burton needs to do to enable independent traders in the High Street and Station Street areas to benefit from it and to draw people out of the covered malls. Burton Market Hall is just a few yards away. of a department store that draws large crowds -Primark. “
When asked who would be responsible for running the dining room, Mr Wright admitted he would rely on a private operator to take the reins.
He said: “It seems to our group that with a new management of experts and a relatively low investment, the hall could generate a fairly significant additional attendance beyond the current quarter of a million visitors. [each year].
“A vibrant market hall would help the open-air market and energize the independent boutiques Market Place and Abbey Arcade.
“Niche independent traders would be attracted to the type of market hall we envision because they have the same type of clientele.
“This should help this region attract customers who are currently traveling to Lichfield, Belper and Ashbourne.
“Burton Market Hall has around 10 empty units, as well as areas for pop-up stalls. We are considering the arrival of new traders to sell fruit and vegetables, cheese and cold cuts, artisan breads, pies and cakes; teas and coffees.
“The food hall concept would see more hot food stalls with seating, selling stone-baked pizzas, desserts and ice cream; tapas / meze style dishes, craft beers and wine – things that are not currently readily available.
“These new merchants would complement the current businesses that currently trade in the hall, but the presentation and overall layout would be improved and the hall would become an experience and a must-see place that complements the department stores and national stores that we have already have.
“The market hall would also be a place to house craft stalls, craft retailers, artists, collectors and vintage items.
“Visiting craft fairs, farmers’ markets and continental markets would complement the permanent traders.
“The market hall also has an important role to play in improving the city’s nightlife economy. The food hall element of the hall could start in the evening.
“Meanwhile, pop-up booths would be phased out to allow for evening events and entertainment. Musical events, touring productions, fashion shows and exhibitions, such as Comic Con, can be hosted. “
Love Burton’s alternative proposals also include the transformation of Burton’s iconic Bass Water Tower into a library. Ben Robinson, chairman of the board of directors for Burton Town Deal, previously said the board welcomes contributions from residents and community groups to Towns Fund projects and is grateful to the Love Burton group for their proposals.
The board has already submitted general plans, as included in an official project document to the central government, where the deadline for submission was Monday, May 24.
However, Mr Robinson said, the proposed relocation of the library would be subject to a lengthy public consultation program that will begin this summer.
Mr Robinson said: “We are focusing on the next stages of development of the seven projects through the business case of the procedure with a series of public commitments.”