Market stallholders ‘left in dark’By Hugh Fort
May 14, 2012
Frustrated market traders are demanding answers over their future if plans for a 19-storey block of flats win approval.
The traders in Bracknell Market in Market Square say they have no idea what will happen to them if Comer Homes’ plan to build 311 homes on land just outside Bracknell town centre is given the green light.
The plan proposes knocking down Winchester House, better known as the former home of 3M in Bond Way.
If the plans are permitted by Bracknell Forest Council, the market will have to move while the project is being carried out.
But the traders say they need to know their futures and are seething at what they see as a lack of information from both the council and the developers.
But the developer and the council both say they cannot give definite answers for how the project will proceed because the plans have not been permitted. Both say there is ‘provision’ for a market in the plans but cannot specify further.
Hazel Kent, manager of the Market Cafe, said: “We need answers, we can’t just carry on like this.
“I can’t see anything in the plans.
“We keep getting told there is ‘provision’, but what does that mean?
“Comer tells us to talk to the council and the council tells us to talk to Comer.
“This is all while people think we’ve closed because they half read the media coverage and our takings are dropping.
“We need people to support the market and we need people to know we’re here.
“Most of all, we need to know what will happen to the market if this development goes ahead.
“At the moment, we don’t have a clue and that’s so worrying for everyone.”
Rob Sheppard, senior engineer for Comer Homes, said: “Comer Group are keen to develop this site since it is believed that this development will significantly enhance both the retail and living experience within the local area.
“Comer Group have always stated that the market is a key resource to the area and have no desire at all for the market to close.
“For the existing building to be demolished and the re-development to take place, then the market will necessarily need to be re-located from under the structure.
“That does not however mean the market will not be able to trade, since transitional facilities can be provided. While there will inevitably be some disruption during the transition period it is hoped that there will be recognition that the results will be significantly beneficial to the market traders as well as to the other local residents and businesses.”
A spokeswoman for the council said the authority could not comment on applications that had not yet been approved, but reiterated the council had insisted provision be made for a market during discussions over the plans.