Plans for £10m revamp of Ashton market square to go to consultation

The public will get its say on a design to knock down the existing kiosks and replace them with a new canopy structure.

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A proposed £10 million revamp of Ashton-under-Lyne’s market square which will see the existing kiosks knocked down for a new ‘canopy’ structure is to go out to public consultation.

Tameside Council’s cabinet has agreed to ask residents for feedback on a draft proposal to transform the existing market square. This would see the current fixed stalls and kiosks removed, to be replaced with a ‘large canopy’ which would allow ‘flexible units’ for traders and elsewhere in the square, and would see a canopy attached to the market hall.

Ashton’s current outdoor market was the product of a £4.5m investment by the council seven years ago. The total cost of the new plans has been estimated at £10.8m, which would be funded from the council’s successful bid to the government’s levelling up fund.

Bosses say the proposals will have a number of benefits, including opening up views of heritage buildings, shelter for traders and removing the chance of anti-social behaviour. However, officers note that the disadvantages of the proposals include that it would ‘inevitably’ lead to ‘disruption’ to market traders while the works take place.

What is being proposed for Ashton market?

The proposed canopy would be one of the most expensive individual parts of the works, costing more than £1m, the council has been told. Paving the square would cost up to £3.9m, while ‘preliminaries’ are also expected to cost up to £1.3m. Timescales for the project are ‘very tight’ as the construction work must be completed by 2025 under the terms of the levelling up funding, officers say. It means that early works to remove ‘redundant’s stalls and kiosks could begin as early as May next year.

One of the images of the draft proposals for Ashton market square. Photo: LDRSOne of the images of the draft proposals for Ashton market square. Photo: LDRS
One of the images of the draft proposals for Ashton market square. Photo: LDRS

Cabinet member for town and communities, Councillor Vimal Choksi said: “There are a significant number of advantages of progressing with the draft proposal which includes the opportunity to open up the views of the heritage buildings in the square, shelter from the elements for the traders which is one of the most common complaints we receive from the traders and visitors, and reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour by removing fixed stalls and providing modern market facilities.

“Ultimately the clearance of existing stalls and kiosks will enable the redevelopment of market square that will deliver much more flexible space for a multitude of users and will enable larger scale events in this square.”

What has been said about the consultation?

Speaking about the consultation the director of place at the council, Julian Jackson, said: “This is very much about the public having their say about our preferred option.”

He told councillors that an initial consultation event had brought up issues with the square in its current form, including that it was ‘characterless’, ‘unattractive’ and impractical.

Coun Jan Jackson said: “It’s about time something came through and I do hope that members of the public and everybody do participate in having their say and those proposals are taken forward. It is about this market place that’s been changed and changed again and we want to get it right this time.”

Council leader Ged Cooney added: “It’s an exciting time, it’s long overdue. Let’s get it out and let’s get started.”

A public consultation will run on the proposals from November 7, which will last for four weeks until December 5. A pop-up exhibition at the market hall will also be put in place for people to see images of the proposals, as well as an exhibition in Tameside One.

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