PICTURED: Plans to demolish Farnworth market and regenerate town centre - but residents and traders are divided
FURIOUS market traders and residents challenged the council over the Farnworth 'masterplan' - which includes proposals to demolish the market.
More than 60 traders and residents turned out for the Farnworth Area forum meeting tonight to discuss joint plans put forward by Bolton Council and regeneration specialists St Modwen.
The controversial plans include knocking down the existing permanent market to make-way for a new retail site and "demountable stalls" - temporary stalls than can be up and down.
Addressing the meeting, Kathryn Carr, head of strategic development at the council, said: "Town centres everywhere are in decline and Farnworth is no different.
"That's why investment is really important for Farnworth town centre. That's why we have the core strategy and this new masterplan - to raise the quality of the town centre."
Residents and traders were shown blueprints for the new retail area by Ms Carr and Stephen Knowles, area manager for St Modwen.
Plans include a 20, 000 square foot retail area, a new public walkway and an NHS health centre as well as 30 demountable market stalls.
Bolton Council and St Modwen are also in talks with Transport for Greater Manchester to redevelop the bus station in King Street.
Yet traders argued the new demountable stalls will not be appropriate for their businesses.
Tracey Myatt, who runs the cafe in Farnworth Market, said: "You said to me you could not accomodate my cafe. I need a permanent stall with a water supply and access to power, I run a cafe and demountables are not an option."
Ms Carr said it would be possible to accomadate hot and cold food stalls in the new plans: "It is done in other places like Wythenshawe where stalls sell hot food and drinks," Ms Carr responded.
But some residents argued the regeneration plans were a positive step for the town.
Resident Tony Cowell said: "I think this is a positive thing for once. People should stop ripping the plans to bits because this is a massive step forward and we have not had that for 10 years.
"We just want to see it happen."
Residents and traders were let down in 2010 when previous owners Ediston put the centre on the market after deciding the complex “no longer fitted with its portfolio”.
The council — which owns the site — has £325,000 to spend on revamping the town centre, which was provided in a section 106 agreement with Tesco as part of the deal for granting planning permission for its new Long Causeway store.
St Modwen would not disclose how much money it is investing in the site.
In 2012/13 Bolton Council subsidised the market by £41,732.
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