Blackwood will get a revamped marketplace, complete with ‘artisanal’ stalls and 47 new apartments, after plans were unanimously approved by planners.
Traders will take up 19 stalls on the site of the market square and will be offered low rents to boost business and encourage footfall in the town centre.
Public toilets will also be provided by the developer, FCFM Group, amid growing concerns around the planned closure of facilities in the neighbouring bus station.
A mixture of one and two-bedroom flats will be provided in an apartment block which will replace the former Somerfield supermarket, which has been vacant since 2001.
Caerphilly Council’s planning committee heard on March 20 that the development would bring ‘vitality, jobs and growth’ to Blackwood.
Paul Mapstone, of the architects Burke Rickhards, added: “We believe this presents a unique opportunity to provide good quality, much-needed accommodation in a highly sustainable area.”
Blackwood councillor Kevin Etheridge described the proposals as a ‘major step forward’ to regenerating the town, while ridding it of an ‘eyesore’ in the former supermarket.
“I believe this will give help and hope to communities in Blackwood and surrounding areas,” he said.
Cllr Etheridge also praised developers for acknowledging local concerns about the council’s move to close the Blackwood bus station toilets from April 1.
More than 1,400 people have signed a petition opposing the plans, which includes shutting public toilets in Caerphilly town, Risca, Ystrad Mynach and Bargoed bus station.
“The developer has agreed to lose a unit to install public toilets, and they want to put the people of Blackwood and Islwyn first,” added Cllr Etheridge.
The meeting heard that traders who currently hold markets two to three times a week in the square will still be given space to trade in and around the permanent stalls.
But Councillor Brenda Miles raised concern about how traders would be accommodated while demolition and construction work is carried out.
“It does worry me that if they lose the space and relocate somewhere, they may not come back,” she said.
Planning officer Chris Boardman said it would be difficult to offer trading space nearby, adding that disruption during construction was ‘inevitable’.