Planning chiefs have given the green light for a new, permanent location for Walsall's historic market at The Bridge in the town centre.
The decision at last night's planning committee cements the future of the 800-year old market, along with a number of public realm improvements in the town.
The Market will comprise of 70 pitches housed in a back-to-back layout so traders face pedestrian routes and two dedicated catering vehicle spaces focused around The Bridge.
Stalls can also be de-mountable, so when the market is not operating it can act as a public open space.
Changes to the market layout will be carried out in two main phases to minimise disruption to traders during the ongoing regeneration activity in the town centre.
Phase one, which gets underway in late March, will see the relocation of 11 stalls and a catering vehicle to The Bridge, two extra stalls on Bradford Street and up to 6 stalls in Market Square. Six trees will be removed from the north east side of The Bridge but these will be reinstated in phase two.
As part of the second phase, the fountain at The Bridge will be relocated within the Town Centre as a piece of public art, the podium on which it sits will be removed and Sister Dora statue repositioned into a more prominent location. The iconic Hippo sculpture has already been moved to a temporary location outside Walsall Central Library to allow work to progress and will return to The Bridge as part of the permanent market layout.
Walsall's regeneration chief, Councillor Mohammad Nazir, said that the decision was a 'benchmark for the town' and was the culmination of extensive consultation:
"I am delighted to confirm that we now have planning permission for the Market's permanent location," he said.
"The new Market and public realm improvements will definitely enhance the town and compliments the ongoing regeneration projects in the town centre.
"We have had to stick to a specific timeline as there are a number of projects taking place in the town and we want to minimise disruption to traders and retailers alike. Within a few months, Primark and the Co-op food store will be trading and we're looking forward to welcoming a new cinema in the town, so it's a really exciting period for Walsall."
Work will now commence on appointing contractors for the scheme.
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