THE long term future use of Douglas’s historic Market Hall could be decided this month (March).
Six expressions of interest have been submitted from individuals, groups and business looking to lease the loss-making facility from Douglas Corporation.
The council invited expressions of interest following a survey which found there was broad support for the continuation of a six-day market there.
Closing day for the exercise was February 15 and councillors and officers were this week due to evaluate the proposals to see if there is a viable option.
They will report back with recommendations to the next meeting of the borough’s housing and property advisory committee this month.
Among those who have submitted an expression of interest in running the facility is Peter Young of Event Solutions who has organised a series of weekend artisan markets with the aim of raising the market’s profile and highlighting its potential.
Mr Young said: ‘We’ve heard nothing so far. It is very difficult for the people in there who have got contracts with Douglas Corporation.’
The second of the two artisan markets was held last weekend with a third taking place this coming weekend.
Mr Young said the success of the artisan markets showed the potential of the Market Hall.
‘The footfall has been tremendous. It has exceeded all our expectations,’ he said.
The artisan market featured a range of products from traditional fresh bread bakers and a fish stall to arts and crafts, and photography - a mixture which Mr Young believes could be the key to a successful market in the future.
Council leader David Christian said the Market Hall made an annual loss of about £20,000. ‘It’s not a huge sum but it in the current climate we feel someone else could come in an lease it off the council.
‘We want the market to continue in some form. That’s is our aim - to try to keep the market going. It’s difficult to attract new traders in there.
‘There is no intention at the moment to sell the building on. It’s an historic building which often requires maintenance.
‘The maintenance costs and the occupancy rate is the reason why it is losing money. We are looking to keep it open for six days a week. It’s a case of getting the right mix in there. The artisan market seems to have been well received.’