The city centre wholesale market site is needed for another ‘iconic’ development
Birmingham’s wholesale market building, which Birmingham City Council described in 2009 as being “no longer fit for purpose”. has been neglected like other council properties regarded as surplus to requirements. The roofs are leaking, potholes are a risk to health and safety and the traders have now had to accept 12-month rolling leases.
The earlier plan was that the central 21-acre market site would be redeveloped to expand city centre retail or create a new entertainment zone with open air markets, theatres and cafes, with US firm Hines named as the favourite to land the contract.
The markets in Witton: part of The Hub – a potential tourist destination ‘on a European scale’
In 2009 a £100 million plan was presented: the wholesale markets would move to Witton where they would be part of The Hub a potential food tourism destination.
Traders at the market say they had been told the move had been delayed because of funding issues at the council, but a Prupim spokesman said it was down to the complexity of the scheme.
Meanwhile traders were reluctant to invest in new equipment like new fridges and racking because of the uncertainty.
The Birmingham Post reported in August 2010, however, that the future of the grandiose proposal by Prupim – the council’s preferred bidder – was in doubt.
2011- investors withdrew
Following the news that due to the collapse in the property markets and land values, investors had withdrawn and plans to move the wholesale market to Witton had been scrapped, Cllr Paul Tilsley said that a council regeneration department official was trying to find investors and sites for a new facility in the city and that already two potential sites, one at Saltley and one at Longbridge have been earmarked.
He warned, however, that the fruit and vegetable, the meat and poultry and fish markets might not end up on a shared site and argued that a move away from the city centre would not kill trade.
He strongly denied allegations that the council was looking to sell off a prime plot of city centre land to ease its budget worries and offset the costly building of the Library of Birmingham.
A few days later, at a consultation meeting between the market committee and Birmingham City Council over the collapsed deal, traders were reported as saying that they did not believe the £38 million needed to move them would be found.
The council says that it cannot afford to repair its long-neglected property: “The refurbishment the building needs is not affordable”.