CONCERNED Knutsfordians have branded plans to stage a six-week Christmas Market on the Little Heath as ‘wholly inappropriate’ and ‘intolerable’.
Last week, the Guardian reported that Wilmslow-based Living World Events had joined forces with Tatton Estate Management to create Mistletoe Markets Knutsford.
The market, proposed to operate from November 14 to December 23, would see 100 traditional wooden chalets erected on Little Heath, selling a variety of produce and wares, a central bar, Santa’s Grotto with a Lapland style tepee and Christmas Tree Forest.
However, not all Knutsfordians approve of the organisers’ ‘magical, fairy-tale’ pitch.
Town Clr Vivien Davies expressed concerns when presented with the plans at a meeting of Knutsford Town Council’s Events Committee last week.
Following the meeting, Clr Davies said: “I have to think how this will affect the residents on Gaskell Avenue and in Winstanley House, who will have to suffer noise, smell and light pollution every day for six weeks, and as it will be literally on their doorsteps, an invasion of their privacy from a hundred chalets, staff and thousands of visitors.”
She added she was concerned with visitor safety and the condition of the Heath after the market's departure.
The Heath would be used for parking for the market’s duration and the market would be open from 12pm to 8pm from Monday to Thursday, 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.
“A Mistletoe Market works well in Chester and Manchester because the infrastructure can cope with the strain in cities, but I do not believe that our small Market Town will benefit from the experience,” Clr Davies added.
Residents living in close proximity to the Heath have also spoke of the detrimental effects the market could cause.
Anthony Elleray, a Gaskell Avenue resident, said he was aghast at the news.
“The use by the public and traders from far and wide of the proposed market and bar every day and evening for six weeks will be noisy, busy and very disturbing to local householders,” he said.
“I was told when moving here, in the early 1970s, the Heath was registered under the Commons Registration Act 1968, to protect the rights of Knutsford residents to walk and carry out pastimes on the Heath, their customary rights.
“The proposal for 100 chalets and bar on the Little Heath and 1,000 cars being parked on the Heath appears to ride a coach and horses through those rights.”
John Beswick, a Heath Drive resident, said he was particularly concerned with the possible exacerbation of traffic problems and damage to the Heath.
“This would inflict a range of unwelcome burdens such as noise, security concerns, traffic congestion, street parking, proximity of the market to houses, and regular delivery of goods for the market,” he said.
“The loss of the Common Land Heaths currently available to all Knutsford people would be intolerable.
“Whilst Christmas markets are increasingly popular in city centre locations, to inflict something similar on our small town is wholly inappropriate, unfair to local retailers, local residents and townsfolk.”
Graham Rigg, secretary of the Friends of the Heath, expressed his own personal view on the proposals.
He said he would support it but only on the condition that all reasonable measures are taken to minimise disruption to neighbouring residents and ensure the Heath was returned to its original state.