Traders to be part of a new working group for Chorley covered market plans
A working group - including traders - is to be set up as Chorley Council moves ahead with its plans for the future of the town's covered market.
A meeting between market traders, council leader Alistair Bradley, deputy leader, councillor Peter Wilson and councillor Danny Gee, who will be on the working group, took place on Friday.
A new food and drinks destination 1498 @ The Markets is planned for the council-run covered market.
Designs show that customers would be hosted through a combination of tabled seating and couches.
The scheme includes up to half-a-dozen food stalls as well as a licensed bar.
The upgrade is part of the council’s plan to invest £600,000 towards improving the famous market.
The scheme has been out to public consultation. However traders involved feared they were facing huge rent increases and sought urgent talks with the council.
Following last week's meeting, councillor Wilson said: “Traders were presented with the findings of our recent public consultation, which illustrated strong support for the proposals.
"In fact, more than three-quarters of those surveyed said they would be more likely to purchase food or drinks from market vendors if there was an indoor seating area provided.
“Traders were also informed that the council will now form a working group to move forward any proposed changes in a collaborative way.
"This working group will include those traders directly affected by the proposals - ensuring they have a voice throughout the process - and will work towards a solution that addresses existing traders’ concerns while delivering on the aspirations of the public."
He continued: “Meanwhile, it is proposed that the current methodology for calculating basic rents continues on the same basis, with new surcharges introduced for traders benefiting directly from the new venue.
“It is anticipated that most rents will vary by around two per cent compared to current rates, and a maximum cap of a five per cent increase will be applied while the venue is established through an initial programme of trial events.
“A rebate will also be introduced for vendors of locally sourced produce to encourage use of the local supply chain. This is in line with the results of the public consultation, in which three-quarters of respondents said local produce was important to their choice of food.
“With regard to the configuration of stalls to best meet the needs of customers, this will be determined by the working group once individual traders’ requirements are established.
"Once allocations have been made, the council will discuss what improvements to each unit are required to meet each trader’s business requirements.
“Any vacant units will be made available to new traders in an attempt to improve and diversify the range of food and drinks stalls, in line with the results of our recent consultation.
“Following this important period of consultation, we now look forward to working closely with traders to formulate final plans for what we envisage as a modern, family friendly venue which will attract custom and improve and expand our current town centre offer to meet the ever-changing needs of residents and other visitors.”