‘TRANSFORMATIONAL’ plans to redevelop Ashton-under-Lyne’s market have been given the go ahead.
A canopy will be erected over outdoor stalls, with the rest of the area redeveloped so it can attract people to the town.
And those behind the scheme believe it can become a ‘unique landmark destination.’
Almost £11 million of money secured from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund will be used on the project.
It will see the market hall remain untouched, with the triangular canopy to the height of the roof level erected, meaning its clock tower will still be visible.
Underneath that, a number of kiosks will house permanent stalls, with up to 44 ‘pop up’ facilities able to be put up and taken down on the day.
A report backing the proposal did not hold back, stating: “Market Square lacks vibrancy, is unappealing and unattractive for visitors to the area and the space has remained a poor state for a number of years.
“There are few opportunities for dwell and a lack of greenery that would encourage people to spend more time in the area.
“In addition, ground levels are uneven making access for visitors through Market Square, particularly those in wheelchairs and with other mobility problems difficult.
“Market Square has experienced a number of anti-social behaviour incidents in recent years. Complaints related to intoxicated individuals consuming alcohol and other substances and causing a nuisance.
“Vacant market stalls provide weather protection and cover for these individuals making the area less desirable to visit throughout the day and night.”
But Damien Cutting, who is leading the project, told a meeting of Tameside Council’s Speaker’s Panel (Planning) committee: “This redevelopment would reinvigorate the market in Ashton.
“The brand new canopy will provide a unique landmark destination. The scheme will also be low maintenance and will ensure it remains attractive to new visitors.
“The team visited markets across the country and this development will be transformational and built ensuring Ashton’s Market Square will be future proofed. It will be central to the regeneration of Ashton.”
The design is such that it does not encourage anti-social behaviour and provides clear sight lines along with improved lighting and CCTV.
As well as the new market and canopy, public realm work around the area will make it more accessible, with the aim of making it more attractive and desirable.
Fletcher Square, Bow Street, Warrington Street, Market Street, Market Avenue and Wellington Road will all see surfacing, seating, landscaping and street furniture enhancements done, with the intention of encouraging people to dwell and spend time there.
Objections to the proposal included it being a waste of taxpayers’ money, the money should be spent on the leisure centre and swimming pool, Ashton town centre is in decline and town centre parking fees should not be increasing.
But the scheme, which must be completed by March 2025 and which Historic England says it ‘wholeheartedly supports,’ was approved unanimously by the committee.
Councillor Vimal Choksi, Tameside Council’s executive member for towns and communities said after the approval: “The plans for the Market Square will help unlock the potential regeneration of the town centre and work will start on the square early next year.
“We have listened and responded to residents and businesses feedback and will continue to engage with local traders and businesses as we move forward with the exciting plans and bringing in high quality public realm will create a better space for events and help to bring in more visitors to the town centre.”