New city centre layout causes concern for traders

Work being carried out in Market Street this week.
Work being carried out in Market Street this week.

Market traders in Lancaster fear business could be affected permanently if they are moved from their current pitches as part of the refurbishment of the city centre.

New proposals have been drawn up which appear to show three current market stalls – the fair trade stall, American candy stall and Indian food stall – being removed from their site outside British Home Stores in Market Street.

Instead, the stalls are being replaced with benches, trees and a litter bin.

The traders are expecting to be moved elsewhere but fear it will affect their income.

Those already temporarily moved while work is carried out say trade has dropped due to shoppers not knowing their new location.

Alison Humphreys, who runs the fair trade stall, has already been moved to Cheapside for six weeks while work is ongoing in Market Street.

She said: “I was quite shocked when I saw the new plans. The council seems to be doing this so surreptitiously.

“No one has been told anything; we knew something would be happening but we are being kept in the dark.”

Andrew Long, who runs the craft and jewellery store usually based at Horseshoe Corner, said his trade was down by £50 to £100 a day since being moved to Market Square last week.

He said: “We are finding it very difficult. Our livelihood depends on our position.

“If you are permanently relocated it is literally like starting again from scratch.”

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw is to meet with traders on Saturday, and city council officers are also due to meet traders on August 27 to talk through the proposed new layout of the market.

The traders have collected around 1,000 signatures on a petition urging the council to keep their pitches safe.

The work is being carried out as part of the Square Routes refurbishment, which continues into early autumn with Market Street and New Street Square being repaved and receiving new seating.

Mark Davies, chief officer (environment), said: “The works that are currently taking place in the city centre as highlighted in the plans referred to aim to reinvigorate Market Square and surrounding streets to strengthen the city centre’s position as a quality destination for visitors, residents and traders.

“This will in turn benefit the charter market, shop based businesses and the local economy generally.

“The council very much appreciates that whilst the work is taking place it does cause day to day issues that impact on businesses that operate in the city centre.

“During the lengthy process of planning and undertaking the work the council has done its best to communicate and consult with stakeholders, including market traders at every stage.

“It is clear that the city centre will look very different when the works have taken place and that there will need to be some changes to the way the market is laid out.

“Work is ongoing to develop a new draft layout for the Charter Market that aims to strike a balance between the needs of visitors to the city and city centre businesses whilst ensuring the Charter Market in its new improved setting continues to be a thriving one.

“Once we have finalised the draft layout we will, as has been consistently explained to traders, consult with them to seek their views on the proposals.

“We expect to be able to provide them with our initial ideas week commencing August 25 when we plan to talk each stallholder through the proposals and provide them the chance to give their views.”