ANOTHER city centre street market has been turned down.
Chester’s planning board has now refused permission for markets in Bridge Street, refused last month (October) and on The Groves.
The remaining market, on Town Hall Square, has only a temporary permission until the end of 2009.
Approval for all three markets was sought by the City Council itself.
At The Groves, officials told planning officers they were seeking permission to allow outdoor markets at the busy tourist hotspot for a maximum of 26 days a year, equivalent to one a fortnight.
They would be held on the riverside promenade between Souters Lane and the Queens Park Bridge.
The city's Conservation Area Advisory Committee said it was “absolutely opposed'' to the proposition of a market being held on The Groves due to the “radical alteration” it could bring to its character.
The committee was also concerned about the effect on established retailers within the city and suggested there should be a “rigorous analysis” of the impact of the proposed market.
Chester Civic Trust hoped the council would insist the market stalls were visually attractive and of a high quality to enhance the area.
Opposition was also raised by the Chester branch of the National Market Traders Federation, the National Market Traders Federation itself and by a trader in the indoor market.
At The Anchorite Cell on The Groves, occupiers Terence Moore and Lynette Howells opposed the idea, describing the area as a “particularly beautiful” part of the riverside.
It was unusual, they argued, to find quiet and beauty so close to the busy city centre.
People flocked to The Groves, they suggested, as the atmosphere had built up over centuries.
The market had been “ill thought out,” they told planning officers.
A number of open public meetings have been held to discuss the idea of markets being held on Town Hall Square and in Bridge Street as well as at The Groves according to planning officers.
Town Hall Square had been granted a temporary permission but a market in Bridge Street would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area due to “visual clutter and paraphernalia”, councillors decided.
At The Groves, planning officers accepted there was “undoubtedly scope” for the proposed market to divert some visitors away from the main city centre, including Chester indoor market, but suggested a market could increase the number of pedestrians using Lower Bridge Street and Pepper Street.
Overall, as the market would only operate on a maximum of 26 days a year, this would limit its effect, they argued.
It would bring a more intensive activity to the relatively quiet, tourism focused area but would have the potential to increase the vitality of The Groves.
Councillors heard that national planning policies support markets in town centres as they can make a “valuable contribution” to local choice and contribute to the vitality of town centres and the rural economy.
Councils are encouraged to reintroduce markets or create new ones.
Recommending the application should be approved, planning officers said they believe the proposed market would not cause unacceptable harm to retailing in the city centre and provided the appearance of the stalls was regulated by the city council there was no reason why it should not maintain ''or even enhance'' the cultural value, character and appearance of the conservation area.
They did not feel there would be any unacceptable effect on nearby properties including the Anchorite Cell.
“I am not against street markets but I do not consider this area is the right one.
“It will not attract sufficient people,” suggested city centre Cllr Gwyn Cooper (Lab, City & St Anne’s).
“There are problems more or less every weekend in the summer.”
She added: “Residents were not consulted at the pre-application stage.”
Cllr Cooper moved refusal on the grounds the market would be detrimental to the character of The Groves and to the amenity of neighbours.
Supporting rejection of the application, Boughton Heath Cllr Jim Latham (Lib Dem) referred to the comments of the conservation area advisory committee and said: “If we are ever going to listen to them at all, we should listen to them about this.”
He suggested the character of The Groves would be “at risk” and argued the promenade was not an appropriate location for a market.
The board decided on an 11–0 vote with one abstention to reject the advice of its officers and refuse permission for the market on the grounds of noise, disturbance and paraphernalia.