£8.4 million redevelopment work to Northampton's Market Square PUSHED BACK to winter - but what does this mean for traders?

"We don't know whether we are coming or going. Me and my staff want to know what's going on.”

By Logan MacLeod
Friday, 24th June 2022, 5:52 pm

Works to refurbish Northampton's Market Square have been rescheduled to start in winter instead of August - but what does this mean for traders?

Northampton traders have been seeking clarity from West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) as to when they will be asked to move off of the Market Square and on to a temporary site.

The traders in Market Square have been under the impression that plans to send them down to Commercial Street car park in August for two years might be pushed back.

Fitzy and his son Joe

The temporary move comes as part of WNC's £8.4 million project to refurbish Market Square.

Councillor Daniel Lister, the man in charged of the project, has said in a report ahead of a full council meeting on Thursday (June 30) that the Market Square works will start 'in winter'.

He said: "The move [to Commercial Street] is necessary as construction work, additional traffic, noise, dust and disturbance make it impractical to keep the market on the square during the redevelopment, plus it would add more than £802k to the project cost and delay completion.

"Work on Market Square – due to start by this winter – will include resurfacing, a major new water feature, additional trees, new public seating, redesigned market stalls and a new lighting scheme."

However, when this newspaper went to WNC for clarity as to when traders have to move, WNC did not directly answer the question. Insted, WNC released the same response it had sent out previously.

A WNC spokeswoman said: "The council has continued to work with traders in understanding their needs and how we can work together in ensuring this necessary temporary move is as successful as possible.

"This includes regular communications in regard to timings and we will ensure that market traders and the wider public are kept fully informed via direct contact with the traders, announcements on our website and social media channels and liaison with the local media.”

Veteran market trader Eamonn 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick has been calling for clarity so he and his staff are able to plan for the coming months.

Fitzy said: "We don't know whether we are coming or going. Me and my staff want to know what's going on. If we move down there I'm going to have to make staff redundant."

Fitzy has more than 10,000 signatures on his ‘Save the Market Square’ petition, which he intends on handing to WNC leader Jonathan Nunn.

In its plans, the council said the new market will be condensed to just 18 permanent stalls instead of more than 100 “low quality” stalls it has now.

The council has offered traders free rent down in Commercial Street which was met with disdain.

One trader told the Chronicle & Echo: “We feel, in two years, we won't have a business to come back to. They are offering the free rent trying to soften the blow a little bit.”

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