Market move bid ‘puts grocers’ future at risk’

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Plans to move Crawley’s town centre markets have been recommended for approval.

Crawley Borough Council’s planning committee will vote on a bid to relocate the markets in Queens Square and The High Street to The Broadway and Haslett Avenue West at a meeting on November 10.

A planning officers’ report stated: “In conclusion the principle of a market would support economic growth and support the vitality and viability of the town centre.”

Taj the Grocer, Haslett Avenue West, said competition from the proposed market could put its future at risk.

It objected to the plans in a letter which stated: “The presence of stalls selling similar foods even at just slightly lower prices, will clearly have a detrimental effect on the margins at Taj the Grocer, which although trading successfully, is already operating at low margins in Crawley, which ultimately may put at risk the future of the Taj the Grocer food store in Crawley and in effect set back the stated aims of the proposal to relocate the market to improve the trading environment and footfall in Haslett Avenue/Broadway.

“The proposal will in effect relocate existing fruit, vegetable and foodstuffs stalls away from an existing area which does not have these products available generally in any retail unit while creating over capacity at Haslett Avenue/Broadway.”

The Development Control Committee was recommended to grant two year temporary planning rights to review the market’s impact on neighbouring properties, the appearance and pedestrian movement in the area.

It was proposed the market would have 27 stalls and three food vans and run on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Stalls would be placed on both sides of The Broadway from the car park behind Queens Square.

Nine stalls would be in Haslett Avenue West.

The vans would be parked near the taxi rank in Haslett Avenue West, its junction with the Broadway and near the car park.

A council spokesman said the Friday and Saturday market in the High Street was due to move shortly.

The Queens Square Wednesday market was to move in January to make way for the area’s £3m regeneration project.

Market traders have supported the move.

A council statement said priority would be given to relocate existing traders from the High Street and then Queens Square.

Further stall holders could be attracted to the new market.

The council would run the market.

Its management was subject to review and could be contracted out.