Car parking or a 'piazza' for Rasen?

​The future of Market Rasen’s Market Place is once again up for discussion... and the question over car parking remains.
Market Rasen Market Place Image: Dianne TuckettMarket Rasen Market Place Image: Dianne Tuckett
Market Rasen Market Place Image: Dianne Tuckett

​Over the past few years, a lot has happened in the Market Place, from the addition of planters to reconfiguring parking areas to see what works best for the town.

The Market Place had previously been leased by the town council, but in 2022, thanks to a successful application to the Public Works Loan Board, the council was able to purchase the Market Place meaning there is now more flexibility in its use.

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After consultation with residents, and a number of trial layouts, a ‘hybrid’ use was initiated as part of a three-year plan. Now, council chairman and mayor, Jo Pilley, says it is time to look again at how the Market Place is used and move the long-term plan for the area forward.

She said: “We are now approximately two-thirds of the way through our three-year project for that area and, as we are now seeing the completion of the restoration of some of the properties facing the square, it would be timely for us also to complete our projects.”

Coun Pilley continued: “The Market Place is the heart of the town and, as such, should provide a welcoming environment for everyone, not just car owners. We now need to speed up the work towards the completion of the ‘piazza’ style area initially envisaged and to make it an attractive area for people to rest, chat and even enjoy some of the food available locally.”

In a proposal paper presented at last month’s town council meeting, Coun Pilley queried the current policy of having some of the stalls permanently in the Market Place, which she said made the area look “untidy and unkempt”. The council has looked at ways to reduce costs in staff hours for using the Market Place and keeping stalls up was both a time-saving and cost-cutting exercise.

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Coun Pilley said: “I, personally, feel quite embarrassed to think important family occasions [at the church] are marred by this eyesore. I understand the need to reduce labour hours erecting/dismantling the stalls, but I think there is now a better solution.”

Recognising the use of the Market Place is a full council decision, in proposing to now look at closing the Market Place off completely to vehicles, Coun Pilley reported there was support for this from a number of people who have approached her.

She said: “It would be much easier to ‘open’ the area for events rather than close it for events and continually have to remove vehicles, with some car owners feeling it doesn’t apply to them.”

The specialist market held on March 30 was very successful and resulted in a high footfall from both local residents and visitors.

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"Throughout the day, a number of people said to me they would be happy for the Market Place to close to vehicles permanently if it meant we could have more of these ‘quality’ events, with the public being able to use the area in between.”

Speaking at the meeting, some councillors felt more work is needed to be done to look at the logistics of closing the Market Place area.

Coun Bunney said a more detailed proposal was needed to tell people what is expected of them. He said: “We have a strong argument here, but we need to look at the other side too; whether we would go for full or partial closure and what it would look like.”

However, Coun David Strachan disagreed with the whole idea: “I am concerned about parking for the businesses in the Market Place. To me, personally, it is another nail in the coffin.”

A more detailed plan is expected to be presented at this month’s town council meeting, which will take place next Wednesday (May 8).