Walsall Market looks to the future at new home

It may be almost 800 years old, but a market in a Black Country town centre is looking to the future as part of a revamp which will provide it with a new look and home.

Council bosses are looking to create a long-term site for Walsall Market and have drafted in independent experts to help draw up proposals for its future.

The designs for the new-look market have now gone on show in a public exhibition. Twelve possible locations have been looked at, but The Bridge has emerged as the preferred option for the market.

Plans were put on show at Walsall’s New Art Gallery on Friday as part of the second round of public consultation.

Under the plans, the market would have 70 stalls to reduce the amount that are currently vacant. There are also proposals for a back-to-back layout so stalls face pedestrian routes and adjacent shop fronts.

The new stalls would also be demountable so when the market is not operating it can act as a public open space.

There would also be an outdoor seating area adjacent to The Bridge and additional bin stores provided.

Robin Foch-Gatrell, aged 47, of Darlaston Road, Pleck, welcomed the plans.

He said: “It looks like a big improvement. The lovely new market stalls are much more modern. It matches this area of the town with the bottom end.”

Mother-of-one Jill Wilcox, 62, of Streetly, added: “It certainly needs something doing with it. If they freshen it up, it will encourage traders to use it more. With the Primark and Co-op due to open, it should also help the market.”

But Makhan Singh, whose family have run a fashion clothing stall in Walsall for more than 40 years, said a number of improvements were needed in the plans. The 55-year-old, of Edgbaston, said: “I have two stalls joined together with one cover over the top now, but the new stalls have separate covers. It will let rainwater inbetween. The new stalls don’t look like they will be very strong against the wind. The walkway is too narrow.”

Walsall Market Traders vice chairman Karen Sands, said: “We will be having a meeting on April 1 to discuss the plans before speaking with the council.

“Some of the traders have raised concerns that there are no stalls in Bradford Street, so it might be that we can amend things slightly and put some there. Ultimately we want the councillors, traders and visitors to be happy with everything so we will all be working together.”

Regeneration chief, Councillor Adrian Andrew said he had received positive feedback. He said: “We’ve received some constructive questions about our plans for Walsall Market and very positive feedback on the Market Square location.”