Hopes that Wrexham’s markets can “follow in footsteps” of popular venues in Chester and Shrewsbury
Hopes have been raised that Wrexham’s town centre markets can reinvent themselves by following in the footsteps of popular venues over the English border.
Senior councillors yesterday approved a vision which could see around £2m injected to improve the Butcher’s Market and General Market.
It follows concerns over decreasing visitor numbers and the large amount of empty stalls in the 19th century buildings.
A special task force was set up in 2018 which saw politicians visit a number of other markets to generate ideas, including Shrewsbury’s Market Hall and Chester Market.
Both were voted among the top ten in the UK last year after undergoing major transformations.
A member of Wrexham Council’s town centre markets task and finish group has now expressed hopes that its own venues will follow suit.
Cllr Frank Hemmings said: “I’ve been to Shrewsbury and looked at what they’re doing, and Chester was also mentioned.
“You can see that with just a slight change you can make a difference with a few food stalls.
“Chester’s incredible – we went on a Thursday with a few of the task and finish group and it was absolutely packed out.
“People were eating meals, shopping, reading books and you could even buy a gin and tonic there which I thought was quite good.
“I fully support this report and fingers crossed that we’ll be able to do what Chester have done and Shrewsbury have done and have a successful market.”
The first phase of work will see changes carried out to the Butchers’ Market with plans for a pop-up food shop to showcase local produce.
Alterations have been proposed to the layout of the grade II listed market in a bid to improve footfall with upgraded signs, stall fronts and access points also outlined.
While the improvements have mostly been welcomed by traders, some have warned the council will need to work with them to prevent disruption.
It comes after the authority said the Butcher’s Market would need to be closed for six months or more while some of the work is carried out.
Council leader Mark Pritchard said their views would be considered before the improvements begin, which is expected to be in 2021 at the earliest.
He said: “I think that we have to communicate and have discussions with the traders and obviously with the wider public.
“It’s an opportunity for the first time that we can have some money to invest in the Butcher’s Market and the other markets.
“It’s a substantial amount of money which we can do a wonderful job with to regenerate and rebrand it. There has been some discussion on social media and we have received some e-mails.
“I understand the concerns of individuals and traders, but I think this should be celebrated.”
Members of the executive board voted to approve the recommendations at the end of the debate.
Funding for the improvements is anticipated to come from a number of sources, including the Welsh Government, National Lottery Heritage and the council itself.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme)
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