By Ian Dipple Thursday 10 October 2013 Updated: 11/10 09:51
COUNCILLORS have called for an end to the long-running saga over the future of the abandoned market space.
The site has been an issue for the borough council since it was decided in 2006 to move the market back into the town centre following complaints from traders the newly created area near to the Kingfisher Shopping Centre was cold and unwelcoming and hidden away from shoppers. At the time stallholders claimed trade had fallen by 80 per cent and many abandoned the town as a result.
Previous suggestions for the space have included using it for events and performances and a disabled car park but all have been ruled out for various reasons. The site has also been offered in the past to the Kingfisher Shopping Centre but there was no interest.
It is currently being used as an unofficial car park by market traders and according to Coun Andy Fry some motorists.
"People are parking there because they know the enforcement officers can't book them, they can't do anything," he told an overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (October 8).
Coun Carole Gandy said a decision had to be taken as the situation could not be allowed to continue indefinitely.
"It's either a car park or it's not, if it is a car park it should be sectioned off from the public," she said.
"A significant number of people use the underpass to walk through there.
"We either do something with it or try to protect the public from it. But if it is a car park then we should charge."
A new proposal for the site is being developed by Redditch Town Centre Partnership which could see the area turned into a covered all weather outdoor play area which would also help bring some of the neighbouring shop units back into use.
John Staniland, the council's executive director of planning and regeneration, said market traders were currently using the space because the designated area for them under car park two was not up to scratch but work was taking place over the next few weeks to improve it and vehicles would then be stopped from accessing it.
"The long-term future of the former market area, which is likely to be considered together with adjoining Threadneedle House, will be considered as a part of reviews of all the council’s property assets. But in the meantime, we believe the Town Centre Partnership is the ideal forum to develop great ideas to use the space. This process has our support and we look forward to playing our part."
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