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Market regeneration planned as details of “programme of possible investment” released

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Dec 22nd, 2017.

Wrexham Council have lodged a planning application to start the ball rolling on a range of improvements to one of the town’s historic markets.

The plans, which relate to the Butchers Market, aim to enhance the fabric of the building and could potentially lead to further regeneration of the building and the General Market.

Such plans for the market were mooted earlier this year, with a 400k wish list created for improvements for the building and the General Market as and when funding was available. A range of improvements were discussed, many of which have surfaced in the new application this week.

As the market is Grade II listed, there is a separate application seeking listed building building consent to carry out the internal and external alterations.

Details about why the application has been submitted are provided within the supporting documents, which explains: “The council are working to reinvigorate and regenerate Wrexham town centre and the proposed works to the Butchers Market have been informed by various studies and strategies including the Wrexham Town Centre Masterplan (2016), the Wrexham Public Realm Strategy (2015) and the Markets and Henblas Commercial Study (2017) all of which recognise the role that the historic market buildings can play in creating distinctive destinations within the town centre.

“Through enhancing their appearance, character and commercial offer these buildings can encourage and support business and tourism activities.

“The works to the Butchers Market are not in isolation and these proposals form part of a larger delivery plan for comprehensive town centre regeneration.”

It is believed the scheme will offer the following benefits to the building:

– Improvement to the appearance and character of the listed building through “replacement of a modern, inappropriate shop front with a more architecturally appropriate frontage to number 10 High Street”

– Enhancement to the original symmetrical appearance through installation of new shop front to match proportions and detail of existing shop front.

– Level access into the main market hall from High Street makes the market more accessible to everyone and allows visitors to use the principal entrance rather than secondary entrance through Central Arcade.

– Redecoration, decluttering and renewal of shop fronts creates an attractive facade that announces the building within the streetscape.

– Redecoration in a consistent colour scheme across all entrances and market buildings reinforces the markets as a “brand for the council and creates a sense of arrival”

Several proposals, largely to the exterior of the building, are put forward in the report, including improving the signage of the existing shop fronts to the shops at the High Street entrance of the market.

Along with the main market hall, The Leader offices, the vacuum repairs shop and The Beach are also considered as part of the Butchers Market.

Eyebrows were raised when the Leader placed large signage on the front of the building, as described above as ‘inappropriate’, however no action was taken to change it. As pictured at the top a more fitting sign will now mark the home of the ‘local’ Newsquest publication.

The images show that the new entrances and signage would be in-keeping with other council owned properties in town, including the smaller shops on Henblas Street. The entrance to Central Arcade has recently had new signage installed to tidy up that entrance to the market.

Along with the new signage, other proposals for the High Street entrance include repairs to the market building’s fabric and redecoration of the corridor.

The application also features proposals to level access to the market hall via the entrance on High Street. Currently the only level access to the market is via the Central Arcade, which is not owned by Wrexham Council.

There has been criticism in the past about the lack of disabled access to the market, with both the Henblas Street and High Street entrances having steps. In August 2017 such issues were raised in the Town Centre Forum, with calls to make improving the access a priority for Wrexham Council.

As part of the proposed works it has been recommended that level access into the market hall is provided via High Street – which would include “raising the level of the adjacent footway to provide level access directly from the footway into the central corridor”.

A further three options to improve access to the market had also been considered, including installing a ramp and steps to Henblas Street entrance, installing disabled access lift to Bank Street entrance and providing a ramp within the central corridor area by removing steps and excavating floor to the same level as the High Street pavement.

Commenting on why the proposals have been put forward, the application states: “Current level access into the market hall is along Central Arcade. The arcade is not in the same ownership as the market hall and there is no control over ensuring access along the arcade is maintained.

“Extending the opening hours of the market hall in the future, should the opportunity arise, to provide for night time trading and activities would not be possible as there would be no suitable level access for people with mobility problems, for people using wheelchairs and for people with pushchairs.”

Other new elements, including smart new doors are included in the plans:

The supporting document concludes: “The works have been developed as part of a programme of possible investment into the markets and the design and details of the works have been informed by this assessment and an understanding of the building’s historial development and significance.

“It is evident that the building has been subject to change previously to meet the demands of a changing indoor market.

“Whilst these previous works have eroded some of the original architectural character there remains significant evidence of the design intentions of the the original building to help inform and guide future works to ensure the heritage significance of the building is conserved and where possible enhanced.”

The application will be considered by for approval at a later date, and with various grants being accessed in the area and the markets as seen as a priority with Wrexham Council the plans could become a reality sooner than later.

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