Heritage group fighting plans to remove cobbles
A HERITAGE group hopes to block plans to rip up stone setts from Beverley's historically significant Saturday Market.
The town's Civic Society, which preserves and promotes the town's history, is objecting the proposals.
The setts' removal is part of a planned £2.5m facelift that aims to make Saturday Market more pedestrian friendly.
The Civic Society's Mike Guest said: "We met this week and 85 per cent voted to keep the setts. Our members were quite adamant they are part of the history and the character of the town."
The Civic Society now plans to meet East Riding Council to spell out its concerns.
Plans under consultation include repaving the area, reducing the number of parking spaces, widening pavements and creating a pedestrian area around the Market Cross.
Cobbles and tarmac would be replaced with different types of block paving and Yorkstone pavements would be renewed.
The plan comes six years after ambitious moves to transform the square into a Continental- style piazza sparked huge controversy, halting makeover plans for the East Riding's busiest square.
Since then, key shopping streets have been repaved, leaving the square looking shabby in comparison.
David Elvidge, who sits on both Beverley Town Council and East Riding Council, has thrown his support behind the scheme, saying none of the setts are original.
Civic Society history expert Professor Barbara English agrees the setts were replaced in the 1980s but says Saturday Market has had stone setts for hundreds of years and they should remain.
She said: "Certainly, they will have to be relaid because the engineers tell us the sub-structure is very weak. They weren't designed to take heavy lorries.
"They could, as they were in Highgate, be taken up and relaid. The relaying in Highgate was very well done."
Prof English says the setts are set in bitumen and, if that is poured in correctly, it can give a very level surface.
She said: "At the moment, it's not very level for girls in high shoes or people in wheelchairs.
"Possibly they could put pathways across it, which would be completely smooth. That would also encourage people to walk in a safer way."
Photographic evidence proves the setts have been there since at least Victorian times. The Civic Society says things need not necessarily be retained just because they are old.
But Prof English said: "We think they're an integral part of the market place.
"They look nice and they have a pleasant way of reflecting the sky."