Two new locations for Eastgate Market are on the cards as plans to move the traders out to make way for TK Maxx gather pace.
The market traders were told recently that a plan is afoot to move them out – as discount clothing retailer TK Maxx prepare to move in.
A suggested move to the upstairs food court in The Eastgate shopping centre has been widely criticised.
But city council leader Paul James has revealed that he is eyeing up two other possible places to set up the market.
He would not say where the locations are but he has ruled out the asbestos-filled former Marks and Spencer store, in Northgate Street.
But, at a council meeting on Thursday night, he said: “It is not easy to find an alternative because it needs a big floor space. I do have a couple of other places in mind but it would not be wise to reveal them now.”
One idea being touted is to turn the Fleece Hotel site, off Westgate Street and currently in the city council’s ownership, into a complex of market stall shops similar to The Shambles, in York, which is a popular tourist attraction.
It could be paid for by selling the hotel, which is currently on the market.
Ivan Taylor, chairman of the Westgate Traders Association, said: “It would certainly be a real attraction and help to bring us into the 21st century. Unless you are going to spend some serious money it is going to be difficult to find something large enough.
“There are a number of empty units in the city but whether there is something of the right size I’m not sure, unless of course it was a new build.”
Mr James has said that the market must move if it is to survive because costly repair jobs are mounting up.
Rival councillors have attacked the plan which is being drawn up in conjunction with Rockspring, the owners of the shopping complex.
Councillor Kate Haigh, Labour group leader, questioned why the council had not been looking for a suitable new home sooner if the repair jobs had become so apparent.
Councillor Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “If TK Maxx has to go into the market area then we really need to find somewhere more suitable. The first floor is somewhere that independent traders have already failed in.”
Pensioner Jo Dobson, from Hucclecote, said: “They’ve done it in the East End of London. It won’t work. They don’t think of the elderly.”
The market last moved in 1972 from its original home at The Eastgate entrance, in Eastgate Street.