Traders at Birmingham’s run down wholesale market could remain on site after months of speculation over its future.
Birmingham City Council is to consider a range of options for the future of the key site – including the possibility that traders could remain at there.
Plans for the 21-acre site south of the city centre are back on the council’s agenda, with a report set to go to cabinet in the new year.
Birmingham City Council announced 18 months ago it had appointed property firm Prupim as the preferred bidder to build a new out-of-town site at the former premises of IMI in Witton, called the HUB.
Since then evidence of progress on the plans has been slow, with traders complaining they have been unable to invest in their businesses as they wait for news on the move.
The council said the forthcoming report for cabinet would contain a “range of alternative options” for the markets, which provide work for thousands of small businesses. The move to Witton is the main option but it is understood another could see traders remain at the current site, widely regarded as “not fit for purpose,” for the foreseeable future.
As a fall-back to the Witton plan, the council is reported to be looking at plans to keep the current site operational in the medium term.
The council is drawing up three, five and ten-year investment plans to refurbish the current site, including spending £8 million to fix the leaking roof, according to the trade publication Fresh Produce Journal.
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson refused to be drawn on the detail of the options.
He said: “The city council continues to work with Prupim to assess the feasibility of relocating the Wholesale Markets to the HUB.
“In presenting a report to cabinet in due course, a range of alternative options will need to be presented as part of the business case – this is normal practice for all projects.
“The nature and number of options that will be discussed alongside the option to relocate to the HUB is currently being worked on. The intention is to present options to senior councillors in January and then ultimately take a report to cabinet.”
Market traders at the 35-year-old site have complained of living in limbo ever since the announcement of the move to Witton was made in June last year.
Leases ran out in August last year, and traders are now on a 12-month rolling lease.
They have been promised a state-of-the-art site that has the potential to become a food tourism destination on a European level.
In the meantime, firms are becoming frustrated at conditions at the current site with its leaking roof and potholes. Any move of the markets out of the city centre would also have big implications for Birmingham’s city centre skyline.
Birmingham’s Big City Plan envisages the relocation of the markets as a catalyst to transform the area with ambitions to expand the city’s retail space or create a new entertainment zone with open air markets, theatres and cafes.