‘VAGUE’ plans to expand Stratford’s Waterside Market should be scrapped say businesses and residents.
The proposals submitted by Stratford District Council seek a partial change to a mixed use area including for leisure and recreational use, market stalls, tourist information, ticket sales and promotion, and charitable or group activities. The plans include a proposal for 12 additional market stalls in the area alongside Bancroft Gardens.
A report by chartered surveyors Bruton Knowles, which accompanies the application, claims the expansion and mixed use will improve the viability of the area.
It says: “The proposal will increase the number of market stalls in Bancroft Gardens and help to improve vitality and viability of the area. As these stalls are temporary there will be no negative effect on the setting of the surrounding heritage assets. The growth of the market will bring both locals and tourists to this rich heritage town, increase people knowledge and enjoyment of the surrounding historic fabric.”
But residents and businesses, which have already taken a hit from pandemic restrictions, argue more stalls could further damage the local economy.
District ward councillor Jenny Fradgely said there was a ‘lack of evidence to support the assertions’ made in the report and slammed the plans for being vague.
She said: “Lack of detail in the application – how many food stalls, a particular area of concern and associated development – what might this allow?
“Waterside is already an area of intensive use in normal times. It is a very important area in the offer the town makes to residents and visitors and should not become a barrier to access to the Bancroft and the river.
“A proper and equitable balance should be reached about the area between the market and local business. The area to the north is of particular concern. It is the most visible from the town but is a jumble of parked vehicles, tables and chairs and street food, making access to the Bancroft difficult at this point.
“I believe this application is premature, a refusal at this stage would allow time for all the vagueness here to be properly resolved.”
Business support network Stratforward BID, which carried out a consultation with its members, also fears the effect of the expansion on local companies.
BID members questioned a suggestion by the report that town food businesses could operate from the market, saying it clashed with claims the expansion would increase footfall. They called for the application to be scrapped while further consultation is carried out.
A decision looks set to be made later this month.