Huge revamp of Ashton market square approved
Ashton town centre is all set for a massive transformation.
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A multi-million pound revamp of Ashton-under-Lyne’s market square with a huge new ‘feature canopy’ has been given the green light.
Members of Tameside’s planning committee have granted permission for plans for the square, next to Ashton Market Hall and the Town Hall, to be transformed with £10.8m of Levelling Up funding.
The council is aiming to regenerate the square by replacing the existing outside stalls and kiosks it says are currently plagued by anti-social behaviour.
They will be replaced with a ‘large canopy’ which will allow space for ‘flexible units’ for traders, as well as for events and six kiosks, which would mostly be divided into two units.
Damien Cutting, the economic growth lead at Tameside council told members of the planning committee the ‘bespoke’ canopy over the new outdoor kiosks would create a ‘unique landmark destination’ for Ashton.
“Improving Ashton market square is absolutely essentially to the future vitality and viability of the town centre,” he added. “The new scheme will bring a number of benefits to the local community and breathe new life into the town.”
The benefits include raising the town’s profile and deterring anti-social behaviour, providing flexible spaces for events and improving the evening and night-time economy, he said.
“This redevelopment of a key asset in the town will reinvigorate the market in Ashton by increasing the number of traders and broadening the offer as similar markets have done across the country.”
Councillors were told new paving would mean the entire square was accessible and safe for all visitors and residents.
“The new development will be transformational and bold, ensuring that Ashton’s historic market square is future-proofed and fit for modern market needs,” Mr Cutting said.
The meeting was told that Ashton had been a market town ‘since medieval times’ and it was aimed to build upon the success of the indoor market, and increase occupancy in the outdoor market.
An area of pop-up stalls would also be created that could be added or removed and ‘extensive’ public realm improvements would be installed in and around the market, including new paving and seating areas.
Historic England, a statutory consultee, ‘wholeheartedly’ supports the proposals which it says would enhance the space and the setting of the Grade-Two listed market hall, councillors heard.
The plans also include the creation of new gardens at Wellington Road, by the Grade Two-listed Ashton Town Hall and the indoor Market Hall.
And works would also take place on Market Street, improving Fletcher Square which would become a ‘more intimate’ arrival space connecting the east of the town centre with the market grounds.
It would also create a seating and gathering place next to the Market Hall’s food and beverage offer, and for smaller scale events.
The existing tree avenue on Market Street would be retained, with new seating areas created to make it feel ‘less ‘back of house’ and encouraging people to stop and stay.
The application also includes more planting on Warrington Street, and at the pedestrian area by Clarendon Sixth Form College and Tameside One, as well as improvements to Market Avenue.
The current outdoor market, which has 104 fixed market stalls and eight kiosks, was the product of a £4.5m investment by the council which was completed in 2015.
However a report to executive cabinet stated that trader numbers have now declined to an average weekly occupancy of just 25 pc.
The square has also been hit by antisocial behaviour incidents which negatively affect the way residents view the outside market area and led to a public space protection order being put in place by the council and Greater Manchester Police last October to prohibit certain activities linked to anti-social behaviour.