A RIVAL proposal to regenerate Hereford Buttermarket would keep rents low for traders, and keep their stalls open.

RRA Architects made the final round of the RIBA design competition in 2010, and with the winning design being watered down to meet a tighter £3.5m budget, the Hereford firm hopes the council will reconsider its bid.

The market’s regeneration is seen as key to bringing people back to High Town, and the council is looking to start work on the project within 12 months.

The winning 2010 design from a Cardiff firm, priced at around £5m, centred around a multipurpose facility, with a second storey and moveable stalls.

However, the revamp would see traders hit with a 22 percent hike in their rents and a temporary closure while work is completed.

The original proposal by RRA – based on the regeneration of Victorian markets like London’s Borough Market – would be based on existing rents, but is currently modelled on a budget of £5.7m.

And, looking to take on the supermarkets, RRA director Garry Thomas’ plan for a food-based market more closely echoes the vision laid out three weeks ago in the Hereford Times by Councillor Phillip Price.

It would also see trading continue throughout the building work, with Maylord Shopping Centre seen as a possible temporary venue for stalls.

The plan is arguably more attractive to traders, who are currently meeting monthly with the council to give their feedback on the plans ahead of a formal application.

RRA’s proposal would be highlighted by a dramatic overhaul to the Maylord Street entrance, swapping brickwork for glass to bring daylight to the market.

The plan would also see space for a ‘theatre kitchen’ for traders to carry out demonstrations and an area for major local brands such as Tyrrells and the Wye Valley Brewery to hold product launches.

Produce stalls would be refrigerated and well-lit, with original heritage pine signs restored, to change the current perception of the Buttermarket.

The plan, insisted Mr Thomas, is to work with existing traders, to improve the quality of the service so that they can run the market themselves but also so that the council can eventually raise rents.

“We buy into the supermarkets’ idea that they are cheaper,” said Mr Thomas.

“They’re not, but what they have is free parking.”

The RRA proposal used research from successful northern markets to shape a design that would both be an exciting focal point for High Town but also a successful rival to supermarkets.

The combination of competition, personal service and quality product envisioned by Mr Thomas would provide ‘market energy’ supermarkets like Morrisons are themselves trying to recreate.