Cheshire West and Chester Council has applied to demolish the town’s outdoor market after a fire in January and intends to consult with residents and businesses on redevelopment plans for the site, which falls within the Weaver Square masterplan.
The fire on 3 January damaged Northwich Market “beyond repair”, according to a statement from the council, which said it has received approval from its insurers to proceed with a full demolition of the market building.
A planning application for the demolition phase, submitted by the council and its consultancy Q+A Planning, said site investigations over the past few months have “identified a strategic need to clear the site following fire damage, and safeguard [it] from vandalism in the short term while redevelopment plans are finalised”.
The council said it is putting a programme for the proposed work, “details of which will be released shortly”. It then intends to consult with stakeholders to shape the medium and long-term redevelopment options for the covered market site.
Northwich Market is included in a masterplan for the Weaver Square former retail precinct, which is being progressed at present. Last September, the council began to clear the site, largely made up of vacant retail units, to make way for a residential-led development comprising up to 160 housing units.
The first phase of works includes the demolition of 10 redundant retail units and canopy structures, then the site will be secured with hoarding before the second phase starts.
A food hall similar to Altrincham Market and Manchester’s Mackie Mayor is also being considered, and there are proposals for a public square facing onto Chester Way to provide “a focal point” for events, according to the council.
Cllr Richard Beacham, cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I know how important it is for residents and businesses around Weaver Square that the damaged market building is sensitively cleared as soon as possible.
“The building’s shell is a sad reminder of what happened earlier this year, but for businesses in the square and in the indoor market that will want to re-open following the lockdown, it is important that we are making good progress.
“During the pandemic, the investigations on site have been concluded and with approval from insurers we are able to proceed to the next phase.”
Meanwhile, today the council unveiled plans to reopen towns and cities and help businesses function after months of lockdown.
Proposals include pedestrianising some streets and encouraging walking and cycling to support social distancing measures, and supporting businesses with ‘al fresco’ outdoor dining areas where possible so people can safely spend time in open, outdoor public spaces.