DONCASTER’S historic market could be set for a £1.3 million revamp under plans set to go before councillors.
The proposals were yesterday backed by Mayor Peter Davies’ cabinet and would see more than 100 stalls removed from the open market and current market top sections, and then replaced with more modern structures.
They would also be laid out in a way which will mean shoppers would be able to get better access to the indoor Wool Market, which would be made it more visible.
The scheme, called the Doncaster Markets Business Development Scheme, is intended to reverse a fall in the number of traders currently using the open market.
All 138 outdoor stalls would be removed, with council officers describing them as “functionally obsolete”. They would be replaced by 100 new fixed stalls, and provision for a further 50 removable stalls.
There would also be covered, kiosk-style stalls created, along with new paving, street furniture and lighting.
Replacement water, electricity and telecommunications connections would also be installed.
Officials say the aim is to reverse a current decline in the market - which they believe could lead to only 50 of the 138 outdoor stalls being occupied in three years’ time without urgent action.
The council expects its plans to attract 22 new businesses, creating 33 jobs.
Officers also expect making the wool market more visible to shoppers will create another 18 jobs there.
Their figures predict that 10 per cent more people will visit the open market, and a 15 per cent rise in customers at the wool market.
The open market is the section of stalls between the Wool Market and the Corn Exchange. The market top is the triangular area next to the former public toilets.
The new arrangements are also expected to allow for more days’ trading, with the number of market days rising from the current four days a week to six days a week.
Mayor Mr Davies will ask the full council for permission to divert the money for the scheme from an existing council programme, the called the Space for Success Programme.
Any of the £1.37 million which is left over may be spent on improvements to Thorne and Mexborough Markets,
Mayor Peter Davies said the markets provided a diverse variety of businesses in the borough, and said he was delighted to be able to announce the plans.
He said: “This will help sustain 1,000 jobs. There will be spin off trade benefits for traders across the town centre.
“Some of the budget may be returned to be spent on other projects, and that could be re-routed to Thorne and Mexborough markets.
“This is terrific news for retail in Doncaster and I would urge people to seek value by shopping at Doncaster Market and the town centre shops. There has been trading at the market site for over 800 years or more. Lets hope this is the start of a further 800 years trading at Doncaster Market.”
Nigel Wilkinson, chairman of Doncaster Market Traders Federation, was delighted with the announcement. He said traders had been involved in initial discussions.
He said: “It has been run down for quite some time in that part of the market with the old stalls. It wants completely redesigning with new stalls and a new layout.
“I think it will be a benefit to traders and shoppers. I gather we are to be consulted on the design and layout and hopefully they will suit the traders.”
VIDEO: Press the play button to see Nigel Wilkinson’s reaction to the plans - including calls for more consultation.