A GRADE II listed marketplace is set to undergo £100,000 improvement works in a bid to boost economic and social activity in the Vale of Clwyd.

Plans are underway for Ruthin Market Hall, the Victorian town centre building, to become a 21st century hub for independent businesses, start-ups and voluntary groups. It comes after the Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) was awarded the six-figure sum by the Welsh Government as part of its £1million Foundational Economy Challenge Fund, which aims to develop sustainable local economies and social networks.

Helen Wilkinson, chief executive of the DVSC, which provides support services for the third sector in Denbighshire, believes the Market Hall has potential to “strengthen the rural economy” and encourage visitors to Ruthin.

The plans include a market for local products made by start-up businesses, social enterprises and regular traders, as well as stalls for community and third sector groups to raise awareness of their work. During “non-market days”, Mrs Wilkinson said, the building would also provide a support centre for start-ups and social enterprise businesses, and be made available for “hire, community-focussed activities and cultural events”.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Ruthin Market Hall

“We hope to strengthen the rural economy by keeping money circulating locally, enhancing the town centre offer for local residents whilst also supporting the visitor economy,” Mrs Wilkinson said.

“This is a key opportunity for us to help support inclusive economic growth in Ruthin and the outlying area and provide a platform to engage the local community, artisans, voluntary groups, third sector organisations, social enterprises and local businesses.”

Mrs Wilkinson said the Market Hall could open in the spring, subject to public consultations.

The Market Hall plan was welcomed by Gavin Harris, mayor of Ruthin who is leading the transformation of the 15th century Old Courthouse – situated just several hundred feet away in St Peter’s Square – into a visitor and community hub.

He said: “The community are supportive of greater use of the austere Victorian building and while Ruthin Town Council is redeveloping the Old Courthouse it is a good move for the town as we can make more use of town centre facilities.”

The Welsh Government said the £1m fund aims to develop what it terms ‘foundational economies’ with affordable, essential goods and services at community level including utilities, food, retailing, health, education and welfare.

Other awardees include Môn Shellfish, Anglesey to launch seafood-related educational programmes and Circular Economy Wales, Wrexham to develop a ‘mutual credit system’.

Ken Skates, economy and North Wales minister, said the funding is for projects “looking to make a real difference to people’s lives”.

“The Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan moves away from a sector approach to one focused on developing stronger and more resilient communities,” he said. “The fund is a key part of our strategy and essential in developing Wales’ regional economy.”

The DVSC is set to organise public consultations in the coming months. For more information call 01824 702441, go to www.dvsc.co.uk or visit the Naylor Layland Centre, Well Street, Ruthin during working hours.