Redevelopment of Peel Street Accrington
Councillor Paul Cox, Deputy Leader of the Council, reported on proposals to reduce the market stall/unit overcapacity by removing the external market pavilion/canopy and stone kiosks along Peel Street and redevelopment to provide additional town centre car parking, incorporating new paving and associated street furniture. The report built upon work carried out by the previous Portfolio Holder for Housing and Regeneration, Councillor Clare Cleary.
Councillor Dobson commented that he understood the reasons for looking at this matter, which was due to overcapacity within the market for retail accommodation and that the Council could ease the situation by removing its own retail provision. He would like to see what the longer term positive impact might be and whether there was a vision for the future of the town’s retail offer. In particular, it would be useful to know what footfall was envisaged and what new businesses might be attracted to the town centre.
The Leader of the Council reiterated his earlier comments about a meeting on Friday regarding town centre regeneration and the future engagement of stakeholders and Members of Parliament. A substantial amount of money could be levered into regeneration. The Market Hall could be the jewel in the crown of the project, which would be discussed further under the next Agenda item. This also linked into the face-lifting of existing properties using Heritage Lottery money. On a wider scale the development of Huncoat Garden Village would also contribute to the vibrancy of Accrington town centre and the improvement of the Borough. Future success was reliant on everybody working closely together.
Councillor Haworth enquired if a project manager had been engaged for this work yet. It was reported that this would be an external appointment, but that tenders had not yet been sought.
Approval of the report was not a key decision.
Reason for Decision
A previous scheme back in 2016/17 looking to remove market stall overcapacity gained general support from marker traders and Members. However, there was no funding available at that time so the project did not progress past design concept stage.
Due to the continued reduction in footfall from the shift towards on-line shopping and expansion of retail centres/supermarkets, it is recognised there is substantial market stall overcapacity located within the external pavilions and some stone kiosks on Peel Street.
Market traders have voiced their concerns that since the relocation of the bus station, there has been a reduction in footfall and alluded that insufficient town centre parking is not allowing customers easy access to the Market Hall. Traders continue to be supportive of the idea to remove the overcapacity on Peel Street, if the redevelopment provided additional short term car parking and thereby attracting customers into the Market Hall.
Due to the acknowledged overcapacity, there is a political wish to see the pavilions removed and to provide more town centre parking. Such a scheme could incorporate a continuation of the town square paving, street furniture and raised planters onto Peel Street and open up the Southeast façade of the Market Hall, which was the original Market Hall main entrance in the early 1900’s.
The Council no longer has the resources or expertise to design, undertake a tender exercise and project manage a scheme of this scale and the appointment of an experienced engineering Project Manager will bring a wealth of experience and potentially value for money advantages.
Officers continue to hold discussions with the traders from the Peel Street Kiosks and outside stalls on how best to accommodate them within the indoor Market Hall/external pavilion on Market Way, if the project was to proceed. However, where tenants cannot be relocated with their agreement, the Council will follow the appropriate statutory procedures.
Cabinet is also considering a proposal to redevelop part of the ground floor indoor Market Hall into a social hub serving food and drinks and the availability of car parking directly outside would only help attract customers to the venue.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
The Council could continue to operate the external market kiosks and stalls but this has been rejected as shopping habits continue to change. There is an acceptance from traders that there is insufficient demand and overcapacity and therefore a strong wish to see this external space redeveloped for additional town centre car parking.
Resolved (1) That Cabinet approves in principal the removal of the external pavilion/canopy, stone kiosks facing Peel Street and subsequent redevelopment of the area to provide additional town centre car parking, with comparable paving, street furniture continuing from the town square and expansion of the building lighting to the Southeast side of the Market Hall; and
(2) That Cabinet authorises and delegates authority to the Executive Director (Environment) following consultation with the Executive Director (Legal & Democratic Services) to undertake the necessary steps involved in serving the appropriate legal notices to terminate leases/licences agreements granted to the Peel Street kiosk/market tenants and any supplementary legal notices/agreements to third party utility providers and/or the Highway Authority; and
(3) That Cabinet requests the Executive Director (Environment) following consultation with the Portfolio Holder responsible for the Markets and Leader of the Council, to provide proposals for the relocation of the Peel Street kiosk/market tenants within the remaining market site; and
(4) That Cabinet authorises the Executive Director (Environment) to appoint a Project Manager who will commence site investigations/surveys, produce detailed drawings and undertake a tender exercise; and
(5) That Cabinet request a further report with full project costs and timescales for consideration at a later date.