The historic Bury Market is set to receive a £20m facelift – but the plans for the dramatic transformation have had mixed reviews from locals on social media.
The plans include a new over-sailing canopy to cover the existing outdoor market, as well as a new multi-purpose flexi-hall for hosting a variety of community events. This is part of wider plans to regenerate Bury town centre, which will also see the construction of a new Bury Interchange and redevelopment of the Mill Gate Shopping Centre.
ManchesterWorld readers have had a lot to say about the proposed changes, with many sceptical about the benefits they will bring the town. The overriding message from readers has been: “leave it alone.”
Some have expressed concern over how the traders will deal with the change, particularly if stall rental increased, while others have suggested ways in which the money could better serve the public, such as social housing or fixing potholes.
Reader Angeline Teale said: “Wish they’d leave it alone bury market is fine as it is a people from all over the country come on coaches to bury, why mend it when it not broken, then the rents will go up sky high and the stall holders will move on because it’s unsustainable to run their business.”
Similarly, Patricia Smyth said: “Why can’t they leave things alone? They always want to cleanse and streamline everything leaving it characterless and without soul.”
Bury Market, described in its signage as “world-famous,” is one of the longest-standing markets in Greater Manchester, with over 300 stalls and thousands of visitors each year. The current market has stood since the ‘70s, but there has been a market in Bury since 1444 and this history is an important factor in some people’s opposition to the changes.
Reader Andy Bates said: “I wouldn’t call Bury Market perfect. It does have a soul though. It is unique and is representative of a traditional English market with distinctive independent traders providing produce and services only found in such a venue as this. All of which could be destroyed and lost forever if any development does not take into account its history and the balance required to maintain what the market has and gives now with what redevelopment may bring.”
While Bury Market’s reputation as a “traditional English market” has kept it alive over the decades, this has not been the case with other market towns in Greater Manchester – and readers were also quick to point that out. Ashton outdoor market in Tameside, for example, has been in decline for decades, despite a £4.5million refurbishment seven years ago. Like Bury, there are also new plans to further improve Ashton Market to the tune of £10m.
Reader John Pickup commented: “Ashton (outside) market has become what some planners’ idea of a market should look like ie; lines of perfectly laid out designer stalls. Sadly the only day that most of these are occupied is the Tuesday flea market, the rest of the time they are a meeting place for druggies and drinkers. Bury market has something for everyone and the best wet fish and meat hall in Gr Manchester, to ‘modernise’ it will destroy it’s unique appeal.”
Reader Dorothy Jenkins said: “They should leave Bury Market alone - it works really well as it is. Look at what has happened in other towns round & about, spending money on trying to re-invent their markets & failing miserably!!”
Looking to the future, however, some do acknowledge that nostalgia is not enough to sustain Bury Market, pointing out that the traders are finding increasingly difficult to compete with retail parks, shopping malls and online retail.
Andrew Chambers commented on Facebook: “Not too sure what a traditional market is, or what modernising means here. But if a traditional market is a place to buy phone cases and cheap Chinese imports then that is bound to fail anyway, since online shopping is taking this market away.
“If a modern market is what the rest of Europe do and has succeeded with for decades (sometimes even hundreds of years), i.e. a food market selling high quality local produce (cheese, vegetables, meats, fish etc) and imported artisan foods (salami, olives, etc), makers market (selling high quality locally made crafts) plus eating places then it probably has a higher chance of survival.
“I understand your worry here, as Bury market is such an important thing. I hope also that whatever the council does doesn’t kill it off... but I also suspect that many aspects of Bury market can’t really survive into the future if they don’t change. I can’t see many of the non-food stores competing against online sales.”
Bury Council is inviting people to take part in public consultation on the regeneration plans. Drop-in sessions are taking place on Wednesday 18 January, Saturday 21 January and Friday 27 January. The sessions run from 10am to 2pm at the Bury Market Hall entrance foyer.
You can also share your thoughts online via a survey on Bury Council’s One Community website, where you will also find more details about the project.