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Concern over further planning application for Stratford's Waterside market

BUSINESSES in Stratford believe they are being overlooked again as the district council moves to formally allow for larger open-air markets.

Firms, already hit by Covid restrictions, are concerned a new planning application for Waterside will allow the craft and food market to carry on using parts of the area where no planning permission currently exists.

The application, which was made by SDC, is seeking permission to allow the market, which during normal times operates on Sundays and bank holidays, to "increase the number of market stalls by 12". The retrospective application seeks a change of use from public open space to a mixed use to allow for stalls as well as ticket sales, leisure and recreation.

The land to the west of Bancroft Gardens has been used for market stalls since 2013, but without full planning permission, the market operators said, adding no further stalls would be allowed.

The proposal has already received objections from some living on Waterside who say the market impacts on their lives with noise throughout the day – starting early in the morning when stalls are set up and continuing with buskers, shoppers and then clearing away.

Business owners are also concerned about the impact, especially when they rebuild post-lockdown.

Colin Pike, of Waterbourne Limited, runs the Barge and Quarterdeck and the ice cream boat moored in Bancroft Basin, and has managed businesses in the area since 1995.

He said: “For years, several small business owners have complained to officials and elected members about what we considered to be unregulated development with the Waterside markets. These markets are placed on the main pavement that leads to the RST and have escalated from a small, temporary, occasional craft market to the permanent, continuous, uncontrolled affair it is now. On each occasion, council representatives have tried to fob businesses off with excuses that make no sense at all or have simply refused to answer questions, even though the impact of this has serious consequences for local employers and their staff.

“We have finally had to resort to seeking professional independent advice which has confirmed that uncontrolled development has taken place with a series of three retrospective market permissions having been granted by SDC to SDC that should never have been entertained without proper consultations.”

He added: “We are a market town. This means we need to allow and encourage the right markets for the right reasons at the right location, which is Rother Street. We have a perfectly good market square in this area of the town that needs additional footfall. What we don’t need is markets in areas that are already the most popular areas of town.

“It is regrettable that a growing number of small business owners in the town centre no longer trust the authority. I would urge as many people as possible to comment on this application. Time is of the essence as there is little over a week left before the consultation period ends because the application took four weeks to appear on SDC’s planning portal.”

Dermot McGillicuddy, a director of LSD Promotions which runs the markets, said the market would not be taking up any further space.

He said: "The market has full planning for 85 per cent of the area it uses but not this area. The intention is to receive full planning for the 12 stalls and also to add to the existing full planning for the remainder. Due to demand, 12 stalls were added back in April 2013 under street trading legislation and no one realised until a few weeks ago that planning was required above the Local Government Act being used.

"This retrospective application is in effect simply to regulate the use for all users, it will not increase the size of the market one bit."

Bruton Knowles LLP, the council’s planning advisors, said: “The planning application has been made to ensure that the market may operate on the entire area, to the west of Bancroft Gardens, that belongs to the district council.

“The permission will also ensure all uses envisioned would be allowed on site. This includes a wider range of uses as detailed in the proposal description. The area included in the application is broadly the same area currently used for the market but with the addition of 12 stalls to the north, as detailed in the planning statement.”

Have your say on the plans at www.stratford.gov.uk, to the planning portal and search 20/02682/FUL.

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