Lancaster’s market hall is set to become the city’s biggest retail store under new £10m plans to redevelop it.
London-based Allied Lancaster Ltd, owner of Marketgate Shopping Centre, is seeking permission to create a 40,000 sq ft two-storey unit for an “anchor tenant”, which will see the part demolition of the former indoor market in Common Garden Street.
Rumours that clothing giant Primark could be that anchor tenant have so far been unconfirmed – although the council said a name should be revealed “within four weeks”.
Darren Sharpe, from Allied, said: “If it was Primark, or something similar, then we would be very happy.”
Lancaster City Council closed the market last year due to spiralling costs, leaving traders out in the cold.
But it is now in the final stages of negotiating a deal with Allied to surrender its lease, which would have lasted until 2094, with costs expected to amount to several million pounds.
The council said it welcomed the plans and that the deal would benefit tax payers in the long run.
The plans include the closure of the building’s entrance in Common Garden Street and a new entrance created within the covered area of the shopping centre.
The glass atrium in Common Garden Street would be “infilled” for more space.
Gillison’s Lane, which links Marketgate to Common Garden Street, would also be removed to allow the extension of the building further into the shopping centre and the demolition of some of the existing walls.
Plans are expected to go before councillors early next year.
Mr Sharpe added: “It’s great that we can re-invigorate this end of the city.
“In terms of retail development it’s very tough at the moment, but the city lacks the large stores, which is one of the reasons why we chose this type of development for the site.”
It is hoped that the new store would help to stop loss of trade to other towns and cities in the region like Blackpool, Preston andKendal.
Coun Jon Barry, cabinet member with responsibility for markets, said: “The closure of the market was a sad event.
“However, I am glad that many of the former market tenants have also found new premises to trade from in the city, bringing empty shop units back into use.”