The current indoor market building is owned by the council and dates from the 1970s. It is still profitable, but the number of stall holders has been falling, and falling increasingly fast over the last two years.
This has been attributed to a number of factors. Not only is the building itself run down and outdated, but it has also lost footfall to newer developments, such as New Square Shopping Centre, and the rise in online shopping. Sandwell council has tried to stimulate business by lowering the fees charged to traders, but with limited success.
A report discussed at a council cabinet meeting on Wednesday 26 June, asked for approval to seek the views of market traders, the public, town centre stakeholders and industry experts. This was approved, and an official consultation will soon be launched, to be carried out over the next few months.
Ideas already on the table include bringing in new types of businesses, building more residential apartments, forming new partnerships and attracting new investors. An expression of interest form has also been submitted for to the Future High Streets Fund, a government-backed initiative with the aim “to make high streets and town centres fit for the future” and providing finance for “capital projects that bring transformative change”.
The aim of any developments will be to bring in more shoppers, and therefore more traders, with a knock-on effect of boosting business in the surrounding parts of West Bromwich town centre. Key elements of the regeneration plan will be the creation of a more modern and attractive market facility, along with improvements to the surrounding area. A detailed report outlining the preferred option will be brought to the cabinet within twelve months.
Think Sandwell will be bringing you news and updates throughout the development process, including details of how to contribute to the consultation.