Give your views on market hall & library plan

An eight-week consultation period starts on Monday, July 19, when Burton people and businesses can give their views about the proposal to end Burton Market Hall’s time as a retail centre and move the town’s library into the building instead.

There are a number of ways that you can give your feedback and also suggest your own ideas:

Preserving the historic market hall

The county council has issued a statement saying that it believes proposals to update and relocate the library to the Market Hall would lead to considerable added value, including:

  • supporting the improvement and preservation of the historic Market Hall for future generations through investment in the repair of the Market Hall, and by making alterations that are sensitive to the historic nature of the building
  • increasing footfall into the town centre to grow and attract more businesses
  • allow regeneration of the existing library site to support more visitor, retail and hospitality growth on the waterfront (to be taken forward through Project D following a future public consultation implemented by East Staffordshire Borough Council)
  • incorporate a space to support and grow local business
  • save tax payers’ money by co-locating County Council staff into one building.

Moving from a purpose-built library

In a promotional video supporting the library proposals – which have been developed by the county council, the borough council and the Town Deal Board – Councillor Victoria Wilson, says “We know it works because we’ve done the same in Lichfield already.”

But not everyone agrees.

Burton business owner Elaine Pritchard said: “The Lichfield Library situation was completely different. Its out-of-town library was housed in an old school. It was moved into a beautiful but disused church building, which needed to be brought back to life, in the heart of the city. Also, the old Lichfield library did not have a cafe while the new library in the church building has a popular cafe, which is now a big draw and responsible for a lot of the extra footfall.

“In Burton, we would be moving from a purpose-built library (which also contains the town’s registry office) in a beautiful riverside location, surrounded by pay and display parking, to a building that is currently a working market hall and from which traders would have to be moved. There are only a handful of pay and display spaces around the market hall making it less easy for parents of young children and older people wanting to use the library and more difficult for those registering births and deaths. Wedding parties would also have to walk further to get to the riverside for photographs.

“Finally, many would regard the current library as already being in Burton town centre. It is just off the High Street. It is a short walk in a straight line from the current library to Burton market hall – making it hard to see how this move will generate more footfall for town centre shops. It could be argued that the move will take business away from the shops closer to the current library. To walk from the old Lichfield library into the heart of the city meant crossing several roads, whereas the church into which it moved is truly in the heart of the busy main shopping area.”

Perfect start-up business location

Elaine and a group of other local independent businesses have been in touch with some of those behind the plans and pointed out that since the pandemic there has been a rise in the number of people starting up their own business ventures – and they believe that a reinvigorated, well-promoted market hall would be the perfect start-up location for them.

Elaine added; “As a judge for the recent Young Traders Market on the outdoor marketplace in Burton, I met many people under 30 who has set up businesses in the past year. Trading outdoors in all weathers isn’t suitable for every type of business, so I think we shouldn’t be giving up on our historic market hall. I am looking forward to giving my views again through the official consultation. I believe there are extra services that could be introduced to the market hall alongside the market stalls to make it an active and well-used community hub. I also recognise that the library needs to be modernised but that could happen in its current location with again extra services such as a business enterprise centre introduced there.”

Vital cash injection for future wellbeing

The library and market hall plan is one of seven projects that have been put together by the Burton Town Deal Board, chaired by Ben Robinson MBE, Chairman of Burton Albion Football Club. These projects have been awarded a total of £22.8m from the Government’s Town Fund programme. You can read more on the East Staffordshire Borough Council website here.

Business cases now have to be developed for each of the seven projects before they can go ahead. Public consultation will be part of that process.

Ben Robinson has said: “We are delighted to have secured £22.8 million of funding for the town – which will be a vital cash injection into our community at such a difficult time.

“When we started this project, we knew how important this funding was for the future prosperity of the town but the impact of Covid-19 on our community has made this money even more important.

“The pandemic has not only been devastating in health terms but also for our businesses and jobs, so to have secured this investment at this time is crucial to our future wellbeing.”

A county council spokesman added: “Through investment in the repair of the Market Hall, and by making alterations that are sensitive to the historic nature of the building, we could have a modern library that breathes new life into the surrounding  area – an area that is full of potential.

“We think that this is a once in a generation opportunity to do all this at limited additional cost to the local taxpayer – as central government would fund the majority of the project’s costs.”

2 Comments

  1. The library is already located in a the best location possible. It has good parking, is only a short walk from the town centre, the cafe has a beautiful outlook over the washlands and the registry office is a great location for wedding photography.
    The indoor market should stay as it is. It’s opportunity for people to run their own businesses. With the demise of many shops in the town centre lost to online trade, the market provides those who prefer to shop in town more opportunity to do so.
    Perhaps some money needs some spending on sprucing up both locations, but it does not warrant the expense of relocating the library. This money should be spent on more needed projects such as regeneration of the inner town housing, providing improved living conditions for low income families.

    1. Thanks for your comments Paul.

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