PLANS to transform two of Wrexham’s town centre markets finally look set to go ahead as part of an investment worth almost £3.4m. Executive board members will be asked to approve the proposals when they meet on Tuesday, July 12.
Senior councillors previously approved a vision to inject a lesser sum of £2m to improve the Butcher’s Market and General Market in March 2020.
However, work stalled after the Covid-19 outbreak saw the indoor markets forced to close their doors shortly afterwards.
There have been long-standing concerns over decreasing visitor numbers and the large amount of empty stalls in the 19th century buildings, with both witnessing a significant drop in footfall during the pandemic.
Members of Wrexham Council’s executive board are now hoping to revive the fortunes of the Grade II-listed markets by refurbishing them.
In a report, Nigel Williams, the local authority’s lead member for economy and regeneration, said:
“The two indoor markets require investment to improve and conserve the fabric of the building both to ensure they remain fit for purpose to operate as markets into the future but also that their conservation features are preserved.
“Two weeks after the executive board meeting in March, 2020, the country entered a lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The indoor markets remained closed for significant periods of the following two years and although significant work was taking place behind the scenes, progress in the public domain has been restricted.
“The funding secured will enable these historic Grade II listed buildings to support viable, long term uses for the indoor markets.”
The majority of the money will be spent on improving the Butcher’s Market off the town’s High Street.
Around £2.5m has been earmarked to create a new layout featuring eight main stalls, a cafe, a first floor restaurant overlooking the market, and a further 20 stalls around the perimeter.
Meanwhile, approximately £886,000 will be spent on the General Market on Henblas Street to provide eight main stalls, two so-called “hanging spaces”, six perimeter stalls and a cafe.
The work is expected to take 12 months to complete with an alternative location to be provided for traders who wish to continue selling goods during that period.
Cllr Williams said:
“Post-completion, the markets are expected to see improved occupancy rates, reducing the absorption of service charge costs by the council for void stalls and improving viability.
“It is proposed that the same approach is taken to rents following the refurbishment works, as when Tŷ Pawb opened.
“This includes a 20 per cent discount on rent in year one, ten per cent discount in rent in year two and full rent in year three and onwards. Full service charge would be payable.
“The ability to provide discounted rent will be managed from within the overall rental income for the markets.”
Money for the improvements will be provided via the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the council’s capital programme and the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns grant fund.