Almost £500,000 is to be spent revamping one of Preston’s historic market canopies.
Work is to start later this year on the structure, known as the Fish Market, which dates back to the early 1900s. The refurbished canopy will become a temporary home to outdoor traders when work begins on a separate multi-million pound project to transform the neighbouring Covered Market.
It’s a question of trying to do the work and causing as little disruption as we possibly can to both the outdoor and the indoor traders
Council bosses have vowed to work with traders to ensure “minimum disruption” during the works, which aim to repair “significant defects” to the smaller of the two canopies. Cabinet chiefs agreed this week to approve the refurbishment and look to appoint consultants and contractors to take on the project, expected to cost up to £460,000.
Leader of Preston Council Coun Peter Rankin said: “We are doing the canopies in stages. This is the first phase and when it is finished we will be asking the outdoor traders to move across, then we will move on to the large canopy.
“It’s a question of trying to do the work and causing as little disruption as we possibly can to both the outdoor and the indoor traders.
“It is work that had to be done anyway, they are wonderful listed structures that have needed a quite considerable amount of work for quite a while.
“So it is coming at a time when we need to do it and it helps with the market’s project as well.
“We had a choice of leaving it until the very last moment and that would be perhaps 2019. I think the state of the structure is such that it’s better to do it earlier rather than later.”
Traders in the outdoor market said they understood they would need to be moved while the work went ahead.
Sock stall owner Steve Dillon, 54, welcomed the move but said work was long overdue.
He said: “It is going to affect us. Footfall is going to be different but they have got to move us somewhere and the development has to go ahead.
“So if they move us there while the work on the Covered Market is going on then that’s okay.”
A council spokesman said the market was “vitally important” to Preston.
He said: “The market will continue to trade and customers will continue to receive an excellent service while the new market is constructed.
“Improving the Fish Market will give us the flexibility to allow the Markets Quarter development to proceed with the minimum possible disruption to market traders.
“Indoor market traders won’t be affected by the Fish Market work.”
The spokesman said the council valued the traders, and said: “We will work with market traders to ensure there is the minimum disruption possible, but obviously there will be less space as we start to look at the improvement works that will be necessary on the new market.
“We can’t lose the vitality and vibrancy in that area because that’s what makes the market space, so we will be really careful we don’t make the area into a building site.”
Work is expected to start in August or September, with the Fish Market expected to be closed for four months.
The contract for the consultant team for the project is expected to be between £50,000 and £60,000, while the works are estimated to cost about £350,000, up to £400,000.
The cash will be funded from the £5m City Centre Investment Fund capital scheme.
A report discussed by Preston Council’s cabinet on Wednesday said a survey carried out in 2012 identified “significant defects” to the Fish Market canopy, particularly the corrosion of column bases.
The report said the Fish Market canopy would play a “key role” in the markets project, and said all available space would be needed for temporary homes for outdoor traders as the new market was constructed.
It said: “The Fish Market canopy refurbishment will cover elements of work to restore the Grade II-listed canopy to its former glory and ensure that the structure remains sound and fit for purpose long into the future.”
The news of the Fish Market revamp comes as architects are drawing up plans for a new indoor market hall, under the larger canopy.
Traders fear the new building will be too small to re-house them all under cover.