Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Metropolitan Borough of Bury (TF 58)

  The council has recently been involved in the relocation of the biannual fair in Bury from Castlecroft, Bury Ground, to The Rock Car Park and The Rock pedestrianised area in Bury town centre. The biannual fair is operated by the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales Section, who I note were consulted in relation to your inquiry.

  The Bury Corporation Act 1909 makes provision for the holding of markets and fairs in the Borough. Historically, the biannual fair has been located on a variety of sites in and on the edge of Bury town centre.

  In 1987 the Council resolved to allow The Showmen's Guild to use land at Castlecroft, on the edge of the town centre, on terms to be agreed, rent-free for a period of 10 years in recognition of works carried out by the Guild (referred to in Mr Collins' letter to you). In 1997 the Council began to evolve proposals for the redevelopment of this site together with adjacent land and there was disagreement between the Council and The Showmen's Guild as to whether it had been intended that this would be permanent site for the fair. The Guild subsequently withdrew their claims to the site.

  However, at the same time, the Council had actively been considering the provision of an alternative site for the Showmen's Guild. Following extensive discussions, consultations and consideration of a number of alternatives in 1999 it was agreed to allow the Guild to use The Rock Car Park and pedestrianised part of the Rock for the September 1999 fair and March 2000 fair. The occupation and use is covered by a licence and The Showmen's Guild pay a licence fee. Accommodation works have been carried out at the Council's expense. The fair is on site at the moment and it seems to be acknowledged by the Showmen's Guild that this is a better site than the previous one at Castlecroft.

  There were some objections to the use of this site from local shopkeepers and others in close proximity to the fair, who were concerned about the temporary loss of car parking, noise/nuisance and affect on trade. However, other shopkeepers supported the proposal.

  Following the March 2000 fair there will be a process of further consultation and review before a decision is made in relation the longer-term use of The Rock Car Park/pedestrianised areas by the Showmen's Guild.

  These efforts demonstrate that the Council is committed to the continuation of the biannual fair in Bury. The difficulty, however, in providing a town centre site in a thriving town such as Bury, is balancing the competing demands of traditional uses like the fair with alternative uses and new development.

  There are a number of smaller fairground events elsewhere in the Borough throughout the year, for example an individual operator occasionally uses part of the Asda car park at Pilsworth, and larger events such as the Lions gala often include a small fair as part of the main attraction.

  In relation to the provision of sites for quarters for travelling show people all applications for such uses would be assessed against policy H1/3 of the UDP. A copy of the policy is attached.[7] A privately owned site on School Street, Radcliffe was granted planning permission last year amid a certain degree of controversy. I am advised the difficulty, in planning terms, is that residential/winter quarters are a mix of temporary residential accommodation with repair of, in many cases, very large vehicles and machinery. Such a mix of uses is not suitable in residential areas due to the nuisance from the repair activities that go on. As a result other areas such as industrial areas have to be considered. The only solution to this would be to separate the repairs and residential uses, although I understand at School Street it was seen as primary requirement that these be kept together.

D K Beamer

Borough Property Services Officer

March 2000

7   Ev. Not printed. For further information please contact the Metropolitan Borough of Bury. Back

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