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Consultation for new indoor market set to go ahead

Sandwell Council is set to launch a major consultation to help draw up future plans for the redevelopment of a new indoor market in West Bromwich in a bid to attract more traders and shoppers and regenerate the area.

A report to be discussed at next week’s cabinet meeting (Wednesday 26 June) asks for approval to seek the views of market traders, the public, town centre stakeholders and industry experts to help draw up a detailed business case to transform the 1970s-built market.

The report highlights that although the indoor market is trading profitably,  the loss of traders has accelerated in the last two years due to changes in shopping habits,  new retail developments close to the market and the current market building being outdated.

As well as creating an attractive retail facility fit for modern shoppers, the council is also looking at ways to use the opportunity as a catalyst to regenerate a part of the town centre that has not yet benefitted from recent redevelopments in other parts of the town.

Councillor Bob Lloyd, cabinet member for inclusive economic growth, said: “The West Bromwich indoor market has many loyal customers who have grown up with the market since it opened in the early 1970s, as well as a wide range of goods to attract customers but despite this vacant stalls have been increasing.

“In recent times, shopping habits have changed and despite cutting stall holders’ fees to help existing traders and encourage new ones, we recognise that we need to do something more radical to revitalise the market and regenerate this area of the town.

“We need to build a modern and more attractive market facility which includes other businesses and residential apartments, and we need to explore potential investment and partners to work with us to redevelop it.

“This consultation provides us with an excellent opportunity to get people’s view and push ahead with this exciting development for West Bromwich.”

If approved, the consultation will be carried out during the next few months.

Following the consultation, a report outlining the preferred option for redevelopment will be brought back to the cabinet within 12 months.

Councillor Lloyd added that the council had also submitted an expression of interest for funding from the Future High Streets Fund to help it buy and demolish sites, get land ready for development and improve public areas in  West Bromwich town centre, as part of its wider agenda to regenerate the area.

The aims of the fund are to invest in high-quality town centre living by improving transport networks, converting former shops into new homes, and restoring historic high street buildings to create new workspaces or cultural venues.

Rebecca Jenkins, chair of the West Bromwich Business Improvement District, said: “I am pleased to see that the council is committed to the ongoing redevelopment and improvement of West Bromwich town centre.

“The indoor market needs to be brought up to date to meet modern shoppers’ expectations. I look forward to the opportunity for businesses to give their views in the forthcoming consultation.

“I  also welcome the council’s efforts to access funding from the Future High Streets Fund so as to support a more strategic development of the town centre.”

If successful the council will be asked to submit a funding bid later in the year.

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