PLANS to regenerate the site of Farnworth Market have moved a step closer — but some traders fear it could spell the end for their business.

The masterplan for Farnworth Market, which includes joint ideas put forward by Bolton Council and regeneration specialists St Modwen, is expected to be given the go-ahead by the council at the executive cabinet meeting next Monday.

The plans have seen the canopy next to King Street demolished and traders will be moved to a new site with “demountable stalls” — temporary stalls which can be put up and taken down, rather than the current fixed stalls.

Designs have been drawn up for a two-storey development containing retail units on the ground floor and a new health centre on the second floor, which is to be created on the market site.

A planning application is due to be submitted in the spring and, if successful, Bolton Council and St Modwen will start building in December.

John Hill, aged 48, who has been a jeweller at the market for five years, said: “I’m worried this will be the end of the market as we know it.

“This new market seems like it will be a showpiece with no soul to it. Come back to me in 12 months and we’ll be talking about trade being down.”

Steve Rawcliffe, aged 45, from Leyland, has owned a fruit and veg stall for 30 years. He said: “We as traders don’t feel like we’ve been kept informed about what’s going on. People ask us if we’re shutting down and all we can do is shrug our shoulders and say ‘we don’t know’.”

Farnworth councillor Asif Ibrahim said he understood traders’ frustrations, but he was optimistic about what the development represented for the townspeople.

He said: “We are talking about a multi-million-pound investment which will greatly help the town centre. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. Change of any kind is difficult, but there are options for people who want to be part of this new development.”

Cllr Noel Spencer added: “St Modwen has a proven track record of regeneration and we are confident it can successfully regenerate the Brackley Street area.”

A council spokesman said: “The report going to the meeting is a formal acknowledgement of the masterplan as the council’s preferred development framework for Farnworth town centre.”

Read more about Farnworth Market here: