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Proposed Improvements to the Market Square

06/06/2022 - Proposed Improvements to the Market Square

Matter for Decision

The City Council has been working with stakeholders to consider the potential opportunities for improvement of the Market Square. Stakeholder views raised at scrutiny committee regarding the project in early 2021, alongside the continued impact of the pandemic, offered the Council’s team the potential to consider all the evidence and views collated over the past few years and to review the project.

 

The project team have reviewed the feedback, previous reports and more recent work. There is a groundswell of support for changes to the market square, making it a more accessible, attractive, welcoming, exciting and safe place to visit, shop and gather both during the day and into the evening. Stakeholders want to see the 7 day market continue, but also want the ability to experience other events in the space.

 

The Officer’s report provided an update on the review of the project, the other major projects potentially impacting on, or which may impact on the city centre, and the additional work done to look at the possible options for sustainable improvements to the square to address stakeholder requirements in an effective way whilst recognizing the importance of the surrounding heritage, alongside the needs for a fit-for purpose future.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre / Deputy Leader

  i.  Noted the update on the project status and next steps at section 8.0 for the project workstreams.

  ii.  Noted the need to consider the project in line with other key projects including the heat network feasibility study and GCP’s Road network hierarchy review and any resulting proposals which may arise before progressing a more detailed scheme proposal, in order to ensure that a strategic approach is taken to the project. This is likely to mean that the development of any scheme, if still feasible, for approval to progress to a planning application will not be finalized until at least 2023.

  iii.  Approved the amended vision as proposed in section 4.3 of the Officer’s report.

  iv.  Delegated authority to the Director, in consultation with Executive Councillor, Chair and Spokes, to continue to develop the project in line with the Corporate Programme Office and project management requirements, and with the Council’s formal decision processes. The project will be managed in collaboration with partners leading other major schemes which may have an impact on the outcomes for this project. Formal scheme development, where proposed, will be developed in line with current policy, including on voluntary and statutory consultation, and brought to committee. Future delivery of any approved project will be subject to available funding.

  v.  Noted the proposal to set up a liaison group to ensure updates on the project are shared with key stakeholders, with the first meeting of this group to take place before the next Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee. The Liaison group engagement does not preclude other specific engagement with partners, or replace the relevant voluntary or statutory public consultation processes.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development.

 

The Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Was liaising with police colleagues on how to improve the safety of the market square area such as lighting for the night time economy. There was a feeling the market square was unfriendly when there was no market present, so officers were looking at ways to mitigate this such as changing market stall orientation to all better CCTV coverage.

  ii.  Opposition Spokes would be included in the stakeholders group. Any future decisions on the market square would come back to committee for discussion and debate in public.

  iii.  The consultation had been widely promoted. It was up to people in and outside of the city (including tourists) to respond. Over a thousand responses had been received to date, so officers felt the responses represented various views.

  iv.  The market square was being improved to facilitate a multi-use area including a seven day market. Officers were not prescribing who could use the area eg agency or independent traders.

  v.  There was a lot of concern about material used in the trial demountable stalls so other options were being considered.

 

The  Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Noted some discontent regarding the market square project had been expressed by some traders and members of the public. The project had started well and been supported by traders. The pandemic occurred which forced the closure of the market. This changed the tone of responses. Misinformation and distrust arose. The Executive Councillor hoped things were in a better position now.

  ii.  Traders were updated through regular meetings with officers.

 

The Director of Enterprise and Sustainable Development amended the recommendations in her report as follows (amendments shown as bold and struck through text):

2.1 Note the update on the project status and next steps at section 8.0 for the project workstreams.

2.2 Note the need to consider the project in line with other key projects including the heat network feasibility study and GCP’s Road network hierarchy review and any resulting proposals which may arise before progressing a more detailed scheme proposal, in order to ensure that a strategic approach is taken to the project. This is likely to mean that the development of any scheme, if still feasible, for approval to progress to a planning application will not be finalized until at least 2023.

2.2 2.3 Approve the amended vision as proposed in section 4.3.

2.3 2.4 Delegate authority to the Director, in consultation with Executive Councillor, Chair and Spokes, to continue to develop the project in line with the Corporate Programme Office and project management requirements, and with the Council’s formal decision processes. The project will be managed in collaboration with partners leading other major schemes which may have an impact on the outcomes for this project. Formal scheme development, where proposed, will be developed in line with current policy, including on voluntary and statutory consultation, and brought to committee. Future delivery of any approved project will be subject to available funding.

2.4 2.5 Note the proposal to set up a liaison group to ensure updates on the project are shared with key stakeholders. The Liaison group engagement does not preclude other specific engagement with partners, or replace the relevant voluntary or statutory public consultation processes.

 

Councillors requested a change to the Officer’s recommendations. Councillor Porrer proposed to amend the following recommendations from the Officer’s report (amendments shown as bold and struck through text):

·  2.3 Approve as amended draft the vision as proposed in Section 4.3, subject to a full report on the consultations undertaken so far and further scrutiny at the next ECSC.

·  2.5 Note the proposal to set up a liaison group to ensure updates on the project are shared with key stakeholders, with the first meeting of this group to take place before the next Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee. The Liaison group engagement does not preclude other specific engagement with partners, or replace the relevant voluntary or statutory public consultation processes.

 

The Chair decided that the proposed new recommendations should be voted on and recorded separately:

 

The Committee rejected recommendation 2.3 by 5 votes to 3.

 

The Committee accepted recommendation 2.5 by 8 votes to 0.

 

The Chair decided that the amended recommendations should be voted on and recorded separately:

 

The Committee resolved by 8 votes to 0 to endorse recommendation 2.1 as amended.

 

The Committee resolved by 8 votes to 0 to endorse recommendation 2.2 as amended.

 

The Committee resolved by 5 votes to 0 to endorse recommendation 2.3 as amended.

 

The Committee resolved by 8 votes to 0 to endorse recommendation 2.4 as amended.

 

The Committee resolved by 8 votes to 0 to endorse recommendation 2.5 as amended.

 

The Deputy Leader approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor or Deputy Leader.