Public back £2.5m plans for Beverley's Saturday Market
PLANS for a £2.5 million makeover for Beverley's market place are to press ahead after the scheme won overwhelming support at a public exhibition.
Hundreds of residents viewed the proposals at a recent mobile exhibition in the town's market place, where widespread backing was given for the scheme.
East Riding Council is now preparing to appoint contractors to carry out the work, which will make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Repaving would see parking spaces cut, pavements widened and a pedestrian area created around the Market Cross.
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Cobbles and tarmac would be replaced with different types of block paving and Yorkstone pavements would be renewed.
Council leader Councillor Stephen Parnaby said: "The majority of traders, market traders and members of the public who have seen the plans have welcomed it.
"As far as I'm concerned, the sooner we can get on with it, the better.
"There won't be many town centres across the country where this type of investment will be implemented.
"This is about protecting and enhancing the town centre."
The council is now looking to appoint a contractor to start work in January, for completion by November 2013.
East Riding Council's principal engineer, Peter Arden, said about 300 people viewed the plans when they went on show in the market place last Saturday.
He said: "People were overwhelmingly in favour of the scheme.
"A few people didn't like the idea of losing the cobbles, but when we explained they were not historic and a lot of disabled people find them difficult to walk on, most people accepted they needed to be replaced.
"We will try to reuse a few of them in part of Ladygate."
In response to requests from disabled people, Mr Arden said the disabled parking bays will be distributed around the market place to improve access to shops. The number of disabled parking bays will be increased from nine to 11.
Overall, the number of parking spaces will be cut from 158 to 120.
A 20mph zone may also be introduced in the market place.
Mr Arden said: "A large number of pedestrians use the market place so it makes it safer if vehicles are required to keep below 20mph.
"The average vehicle speed in Saturday Market is actually about 16mph anyway."
Mr Arden said the council has allayed market traders' concerns about disruption to their trade during the rolling programme of work.
He said: "A few of them had heard rumours their stalls were going to be shunted to North Bar Without while the work was taking place, but we have assured them there is enough space for us to work round in Saturday Market."
Talks will take place in the coming weeks with English Heritage and local historians to ensure proposals for street furniture and other aspects of the scheme are in character with the town centre.
Ben Gardiner, chairman of Beverley's chamber of trade, welcomed the plans for a makeover.
He said: "The market place really needs refurbishing, it looks tired.
"People trip up on the broken pavements and it's dangerous.
"When you look at how North Bar Within, Toll Gavel, Butcher Row and Wednesday Market now look after repaving, Saturday Market needs doing to complete the picture.
"It will make Beverley a much more attractive place to spend a day."
The rolling programme of work, which will take about ten months to complete, will be carried out in phases to minimise disruption to shoppers and businesses.