Concerns the redevelopment of Wrexham’s largest indoor market will result in ‘history repeating itself’ have been raised in a town forum.
The concerns have been made following the announcement last year that the People’s Market on Chester Street is likely to be redeveloped into an arts and cultural ‘hub’.
In January 2015 members of the council’s Executive Board approved proposals to develop a detailed design and plan to convert the market into a modern arts and cultural hub – which would see the current market stalls incorporated into the new design.
However since the proposed move from a market to an arts and cultural hub were announced, concerns have apparently been raised on the impact the decision would have on both market traders and Wrexham Town Centre – contrary to a message emerging from traders from a meeting last month.
Earlier this week on an ‘Old Pictures of Wrexham’ Facebook page an image of the Wrexham Express newspaper from the 1980s was posted, with the paper stating the headline ‘Save Our Market Traders’. The story posted was in relation to a then £12m shopping development in Wrexham Town Centre.
Today fears that Wrexham’s Markets could be heading down the same road were raised, with concern that Wrexham’s Modern Arts and Cultural Hub is ‘going ahead’ without any thought to the existing traders in the Peoples Market.
Speaking earlier at today’s Town Centre Forum meeting, Chairman Nigel Lewis said: “A number of market traders and traders in Chester Street have contacted me about the hub and are really quite despondent about the press giving a tone of ‘this is going ahead’ without any real thought process of the traders in the existing hall.”
Referencing the print out of the Wrexham Express, Mr Lewis added: “There is a real concern we are doing down the same route again. It is very scary for market traders and the traders in Chester Street.”
In September 2014 the proposed interior of the arts and cultural hub were unveiled at a public drop in session.
Initial designs of the interior of the hub were released in September 2014, with proposals that the current stalls in the Peoples Market are incorporated into the hub – alongside offices, art spaces and open air spaces.
At present there are no design and business cases for the Arts and Cultural Hub with fuller details of the plans for the Peoples Market are expected to be released in November 2015.
However Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships and Collaboration, Cllr Hugh Jones said that the council have been ‘totally open’ with market traders of the art hub plans and the process so far.
Speaking about the arts and cultural hub, Cllr Jones said: “We are trying to create something that will put Wrexham on the map. We are not looking at 1985, we are looking into the 21st century.
“We will be the prime location in north Wales for arts and culture. The aim is to improve the economy in Wrexham to benefit all businesses. We understand it is very difficult for the market traders, we can’t give them case iron guarantees until we have the design and business cases.
“We have said there will be a market element in the new arts hub but what format that will be is unknown at this stage. We are holding regular meetings, they know that.
Summing up and countering the apparent concerns raised he ended by saying: “There is nothing we have not shared with them, we have been totally open with them.”
Cllr Jones added: “We are dependant on the support we have from the Arts Council. We have tested the concept and we have the support of the Arts Council to test that concept and the report came back to say the arts hub with an element of market on that site is viable.”
A detailed design and report on the development is expected to come back to Wrexham Council in late October / early November.