Market Scheme Progresses to Next Stage

June 20, 2013

The major scheme that will transform Leicester’s historic market over the next 18 months takes another step forward this week, as planning applications are submitted for further key works in phase one.

Permission is now being sought to build up to eight lock-up units for traders re-locating from the indoor market, a possible extension to Café Bocca, new storage facilities for the traders and some much-needed new public toilets for shoppers.

The applications follow the recent decision to approve plans for a new food hall next to the Corn Exchange – and to grant permission, in principle, to demolish the 1970s market hall that’s no longer fit for purpose.

“The new food hall is the first phase of a major scheme that will transform Leicester Market for the people who work there and shop there,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

“But the demolition of the old indoor market hall next year gives us the chance to create something really special in the heart of a conservation area.

“New opportunities will open up for businesses in the area – and the creation of a new open space will help make the historic Corn Exchange the focal point of the market once again.

“These latest planning applications will pave the way for the schemes needed to support the traders moving out of the old market hall – and provide the high quality toilet facilities which the market has needed for so long.”

The planning applications show proposals for eight new lock-up units close to, and extending, Café Bocca, the creation of new storage facilities for traders at 16-20 Market Place, and the provision of new toilet facilities, a new market office and the re-located customer service centre at 2-4 Market Place South.

The planning applications are expected to be considered during the summer.

Now that plans for the market scheme are progressing, the 30 traders currently operating from the indoor market – and the tenants of the six occupied ground floor shop units – will be given formal notice to quit the building by the end of the year.

The meat, fish and deli traders will have the opportunity to apply for new leases for stalls in the new food hall, which will open to the public in January 2014.

The other traders from the indoor market have been offered the opportunity to take a lease on one of the brand new lock-up units – or are being offered help in finding alternative accommodation.

And the tenants in the ground floor shop units have been told that they will be given priority – and flexible terms – for any vacant city council premises that might be suitable.

Once the notices have been served, council staff will write to all the tenants to set out their eligibility for compensation payments.

“These small businesses are based in a building that’s no longer fit for purpose,” said head of markets Shaun Miles.

“But finding alternative accommodation and starting again somewhere else isn’t easy – and we recognise that.

“We’ve met with all the traders on a one-to-one basis and have come up with a number of measures to help, including offering graduated rent rises on the new lock-up units and providing information about vacant city centre premises.

“We’ll also be able to set up meetings with a member of staff from our property team, who’ll be able to offer help and advice to any tenant or trader who wants assistance in finding suitable accommodation.

“The demolition of the market hall means that change is unavoidable – but we’re going to keep talking to all of the traders over the coming months about the options that are available to them.”

Enabling works have already started on site, but the construction of the new food hall will get under way in July, with the building scheduled for completion in December 2013.

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Plans for the new food hall – a glass and timber building connected to the Corn Exchange by a glazed roof – were given the go-ahead by the planning and development control committee on 15 May.

Permission to demolish the market hall was granted at the same meeting, although a number of ‘demolition conditions’ will have to be addressed in a further planning application.

The old market hall will be replaced by a new public square that will open up views of the surrounding heritage buildings and help make the 19th century Corn Exchange the focal point of the market once again.

Further public consultation on the design options for the new square, and for an extension to the rear of the Corn Exchange, will take place over the summer, with a planning application for these works due to be submitted later on in the year. The conditions for demolishing the old indoor market hall will be considered as part of the same planning application.

Trading in the old indoor market hall will continue until 28 December 2013, with the new lock-ups available from November 2013 and the new food hall opening to the public in January 2014.

The redundant building is then expected to be demolished in early 2014.