Blackwood’s market is in line for a major makeover with plans to create an ‘artisan’ marketplace and build more than 40 new homes.
FCFM Group, which owns the market square, wants to provide a “innovative” retail opportunity for shoppers and independent traders.
The revamped marketplace would include 21 retail units, with a redeveloped space retained for open-air market stalls and communal toilet facilities.
Under the proposals, the former Somerfield supermarket would be partly demolished to make way for 43 one and two-bed apartments.
John Steven, a consultant to FCFM, says the scheme reflects the change in the retail offer in town centres and high streets across the UK.
“This has been brought about by the ongoing rise in internet shopping and the high cost of operation traditional retail premises,” he said.
“There is a growing demand for an alternative to the increasingly homogenised high street retail experiences, often saturated with charity shops, financial institutions, betting shops and failing businesses.
“The artisan market provides an innovate approach to the demand by start-up businesses and the general public for a different type of retail facility.”
The new marketplace would be split into several ‘quarters’ dedicated to food and drinks, antiques and pre-owned retailers, and arts and crafts.
A redeveloped communal area would also accommodate a ‘weekly buskers’ corner’, charitable events and community activities.
Each of the 200sqft retail spaces would cost £2,000 per year to rent – the equivalent of less than £7 a day – and would fall below the threshold for paying business rates.
Tenants would also be offered the first three months rent-free if they have lived in Blackwood for more than five years, or if their parents have lived locally for more than 10 years.
The market would open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week, with tenants – who must be individuals, rather than companies – expected to commit to a minimum five-year contract.
There are also plans to create an ‘artisan market community’ group with a board and elected members made up of retailers.
“The aim of this is to build a strong and sustainable community for the artisan market as a whole,” said Mr Steven.
FCFM have started a pre-application public consultation prior to submitting a planning application to Caerphilly council.
The deadline for comments on the application is Friday, December 21.