Rent rise bombshell for Chorley market traders
Shocked covered market traders are in urgent talks with the council over huge rent increase proposals.
The bombshell has dropped as they battle the cash-crippling effects of the pandemic.
If the rises go ahead as planned by Chorley Council which runs the market, some traders fear they may even have to move out.
Informal discussions have already taken place and more are planned to see if an agreement can be reached.
It all centres around the council’s proposed new food and drinks area for the covered market which has received mixed reaction.
Traders are being consulted about the new space - called 1498 @ The Markets - as a number of stalls would need to be permanently relocated.
Steve Cooney, of the award-winning Bob Inn, was staggered to learn his rent is set to increase from a current £12,000 a year to a proposed £35,000 in 2022 and £41,000 in 2023 - a massive 241 per cent.
Steve said: “I’m very surprised at being the most expensive micro pub in Lancashire for the rent!”
He continued: “I’m absolutely gutted.
“We may have to leave because we can’t afford the rent increase, but hopefully we can find a resolution and carry on for many more years and build on our good relationship with the council and work together to make the market a success.”
Adrian Smith, chairman of Central Lancs branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), slammed the council’s proposed rent hike for the popular micro pub.
He said: “For that sort of money he would be able to rent a conventional pub with all the additional facilities that are not available from a lock up on the market.
“At a time when hospitality businesses are struggling to recover from the impact of the last 12 months, a rent rise of this nature is completely unacceptable.
“It’s a ridiculous figure and we’re worried he would just walk away.”
People were able to see designs of the seating space, which includes a bar, for the first time at the weekend’s A Taste of Chorley event.
The scheme includes up to half-a-dozen food stalls as well as a licensed bar. It is part of the council’s plan to invest £600,000 towards improving the famous market.
Coun Alistair Bradley, Executive Leader of Chorley Council, said: “The views of our existing traders are incredibly important to us and, alongside a wider consultation involving members of the public, we are currently in the process of working with them to explain our vision for the future of Chorley Markets.
“We believe our plans strike the perfect balance between retaining the unique character of the market and offering an improved visitor experience.
“1498 @ The Markets will be another great reason for people to visit our town centre, and the increased footfall it is expected to attract will in turn have benefits for existing traders and other local businesses.
“We are currently liaising with our existing traders to agree reasonable and affordable future rents that reflect the increased amenities supplied as part of the recent over half a million pound investment in our covered market. Any cost increases would have to be phased in over a period of time.
“A small number of non-food traders may also be asked to relocate to a new spot within the market. We are looking to achieve this by agreement with individual traders.”