An alternative vision of what the redevelopment of Clitheroe Market could look like has been released by a local architect.
Mr Charles Stanton, a director at Clitheroe-based Stanton Andrews Architects, has produced a portfolio of designs entitled "an alternate vision".
Keen for people to see what can be achieved now local council chiefs have agreed to bid for a slice of £675 million to rejuvenate Clitheroe town centre, Mr Stanton said he hoped his alternative vision will help spark public debate.
"As part of the campaign to seek an alternative solution to the market square development we undertook, pro bono, a design exercise to show how it might be developed with improved connectivity and a wider remit to address the challenges facing Clitheroe," explained Mr Stanton, who works in the town and lives just outside of it.
"It's about looking at the redevelopment with a more holistic perspective and understanding that if we provide the right spaces, more people and businesses will come to the town."
Mr Stanton's plans include an outdoor and indoor market with 60 single storey stalls, a community hall with retail units below on the current Clitheroe Market site, plus 3,500 square metres worth of space set aside for retail.
The vision also includes a multi-storey car park with 120 spaces on the market site which would be accessed off Station Road and be situated next door to Ribble Valley Homes.
A health centre annex is also included in the designs and access to the new market quarter, meanwhile, would be facilitated by the demolition of the building that Boots the Chemist currently occupies on Castle Street. The plan is that this business relocates to the market square with a new pedestrian street leading down to the square.
"The Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 allows the local authority to compulsory purchase the Boots site, if required," Mr Stanton explained. "The preference would be for them to agree to be part of the wider development, hence why we relocated the Boots down into the new square. This ability was reinforced by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which allows compulsory purchase to 'facilitate the carrying out of development, re-development or improvement' for the area's economic, social, or environmental well being."
He added: "The tools are all there and some local authorities are using them to great advantage. Ribble Valley Borough Council needs to make the leap and the market square appears to be a great opportunity to control and manage the town’s future development."
Also in the plans, the car park at the rear of Boots the Chemist and at the side of the Rose and Crown pub would house the outdoor market stalls.
And in the centre of the current market site there would be a pedestrian and landscaped market square.
Back in December, 2015, Stanton Andrews Architects designed plans for a £3m 300-space multi-storey car park on Chester Avenue or Railway View in Clitheroe.
Speaking about the plans, at the time, Mr Stanton said that the plan was vital for the town’s survival in the light of new homes that are being built, the major market revamp and the redevelopment of Holmes Mill that was set to transform Clitheroe into a multi-million-pound leisure venue that will be the envy of the North West.
Ribble Valley Borough Council’s policy and finance committee voted unanimously recently to work up an expression of interest in the Government’s Future High Street Fund and withdraw from redeveloping Clitheroe Market in conjunction with Barnfield Construction.
Mr Stanton’s ideas have already created debate, with the leader of Ribble Valley Liberal Democrats Coun. Allan Knox warning against another “big scheme”.
“It would seem strange to swap one grand scheme with another,” said Coun. Knox. “One of the main criticisms of the ‘Barnfield scheme’ was that it was simply too big.
“What we really need is year on year improvements to Clitheroe market, based on the public consultation carried out in 2016. The council should then work with the market traders to prioritise these.”
Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Coun. Stephen Atkinson said: “We are in the process of applying to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund to facilitate exciting improvements to the town centre as a whole, of which the market will be a key part.”