Market traders and leading business people have cautiously welcomed proposals for redeveloping and revitalising Clitheroe’s market.
Last week The Clitheroe Advertiser revealed Ribble Valley Council had entered into discussions with Barnfield Construction, Nelson, to come up with proposals to redevelop the market site and car park. It could include some kind of retail development, not yet revealed.
“It’s a case of watch this space,” said market traders’ representative Stuart Gradwell.
“We’re prepared to go with the flow, and we’re happy something is being done.”
But he warned: “We wouldn’t want a fancy market with rents going up; we don’t want to be paying silly rents.
“We don’t something that looks good on paper but doesn’t work in reality.”
Mr Gradwell said the round Bull Ring area created in a 1995 revamp was an example of an idea that had not worked.
“It looks nice on a fine day, but it’s too open, and if the weather’s inclement traders don’t want to come because their goods get spoiled.”
Market traders are being kept in the picture in consultations with councillors and officers about the project.
Mr Gradwell added: “They are keeping us well informed, and we’ll be having another meeting with them in five weeks. We’re hoping the development company will come to the market and have a talk with the people here on the ground, to see what’s viable and what will work, rather than what happened last time.
“At the moment, trade is ticking over. We’re earning a wage but not breaking any squares.
“We realise we need the town centre and the town centre needs us.”
Clitheroe Town Mayor Coun. Kevin Horkin, who owns several shops in the town, said: “I would welcome this initiative. In these changing times it’s good to see a private developer keen to become involved in this way.”
But he warned: “I wouldn’t want any type of development that sucks the life out of the already vibrant high street we have.
“I would like it to be sympathetic to the nature of what we already have in the town centre.
“It’s important to incorporate the market into the town centre.
“Car parking is a big problem and needs to be looked at.”
Coun. Horkin pointed out that Clitheroe was in the country’s top 10 of towns with the fewest empty shops, around eight per cent compared with Burnley and Blackburn, where one shop in four is empty, and Accrington, where the Arndale Centre is more than half-empty.
“We don’t have to look too far to see the results of over-development,” he said.
Chamber of Trade past-president Mr Ian Lloyd, a member of the Clitheroe Town Team, said: “I’m encouraged somebody is prepared to look at this scheme.
“Anything that keeps Clitheroe as a vibrant town, where people can visit and stay and enjoy what we have here, can only be good.
“I’m all in favour of a rethink for the market area, but I wouldn’t want to lose car parking space. We need more car parking.”
He added: “Having seen the story in the Advertiser about Aldi wanting to build a supermarket at the Barker’s Nursery site, I’d sooner see retailing stay in the town centre rather than on the outskirts.”