THE RENOVATION of Leigh Market is perceived as a prerequisite in any 'Levelling Up' plans, as research finds local traders pay some of the highest rents across the North West.

Despite having a proud market history, Leigh market traders have had a difficult time attracting customers into the town centre space of late.

Prior to the pandemic, traders said that their stalls were trading "magnificently", yet footfall has dramatically fallen as people's shopping habits have changed and concerns over coronavirus have persisted.

READ MORE: How covid has triggered a 'horrendous' struggle for Leigh market traders

Leigh Journal: Glenn Furnivar, of the Fish Man ButchersGlenn Furnivar, of the Fish Man Butchers

Despite the struggles facing market businesses, research by Leigh Means Business has found that market stalls in Leigh pay one of the highest rental rates across the North West.

Sourcing data from various Local Authorities' advertised rates, the collection of local business owners report that market traders in Leigh pay a rate of £698 per meter squared, per year.

Reported as one of the highest rental figures in the North West, the rate is higher than markets in neighbouring regions such as Wigan, Bolton, Warrington, and Bury.

Causing shock to residents in Leigh, the research has added fuel to the argument that the market must be renovated and modernised in order to ensure its survival.

With the council preparing a bid to the government’s £20 million Levelling Up Fund, feedback from Leigh Means Business' public consultation highlights that improvements to Leigh market must be a "priority" in any of these plans.

Leigh Journal: Leigh Means Business' market researchLeigh Means Business' market research

Leigh Journal: Feedback from Leigh Means Business' public consultation Feedback from Leigh Means Business' public consultation

What the council have said:

A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “It is difficult to compare the fees and charges for different markets as some markets charge for extras that are not included in the initial fee, and some are open for less days per week than Leigh Market.

“Leigh Market is open 6 days per week, and offers a good range of products and services.

“We continue to support our traders and offer a range of incentives and haven’t increased charges for a number of years.

“The Council is considering the potential to include the enhancement of Leigh market as part of its Levelling Up Fund for the town centre.

"Recent consultation indicated a high degree of support to improve the market. There will be further consultation on the proposals next month.”

Leigh Journal: Leigh town centreLeigh town centre (Image: Leigh Journal)