Llandaff North Farmers’ Market has been forced to close after the owners of its venue imposed an “unsustainable” rent increase, according to market organisers.
RCMA Social Enterprise launched the fortnightly Llandaff North Farmers’ Market for a trial period in December 2010, following a request from the local traders’ association.
Held in the car park of The Railway pub on Station Road every other Friday afternoon, it was so popular that it became a regular fixture, acting as a sister market to Rhiwbina Farmers’ Market, which is open every other Friday morning.
But RCMA’s enterprise development manager, Gareth Simpson, said the Llandaff North venture had been forced to close after new management at The Railway pub imposed an “unsustainable four-fold increase in rent”.
Mr Simpson said the March 30 market was the last to be held there.
He said: “It’s one of our quieter markets, so it was not sustainable to tolerate an increase in rent on this scale.”
But Esther Phillips, the new landlady at The Railway, said up until now RCMA Farmers’ Markets had paid £20 a week to use the pub’s car park once a fortnight, and this was not financially viable.
She said: “It’s not viable as part of our business to allow them to park there for only £20 when they are using our electricity and heating.
“I would love it to stay, and in any business situation I’m open to negotiation, but not at £20 a week.”
But Mr Simpson said the market only used electricity to power a microwave, and added it was a disappointing decision to have to make as he had hoped to make the Llandaff North market a weekly event.
He said he had been looking at alternative sites in the community, including the currently disused Hawthorn School building, with the aim of opening a weekly market on its grounds.
This could still happen later in the year, he said. But the premature closure of the market at The Railway means RCMA will now be looking at other sites for a possible replacement Friday afternoon market, and Mr Simpson appealed for people from across Cardiff to get in touch with suggestions.
Mr Simpson said: “We’ve decided to make our Rhiwbina Farmers’ Market weekly, so there’s no loss for our producers who are growing and making products. That market will now run every Friday, 10am-1pm, in the car park of the Butcher’s Arms.
“But we are looking at where a Friday afternoon farmers’ market could be placed in Cardiff. People have been suggesting big pub car parks, but it’s not about how big the space is, it’s about the demand. Whether we go back to Llandaff North depends on the demand.
“We are here to listen.”
But Lewis Wooten, secretary of Llandaff North Traders’ Association, said people in the area were “gutted” about the loss of the market, and he hoped it could return to a site nearby.
He said: “It was really starting to build up, with people coming from Whitchurch and Llandaff to use it. We’ve lost our butchers, green grocers and all the little shops you would look for in your village, so it was lovely.
“It would be a shame to lose it for good.”
RCMA is also continuing to develop Roath Farmers’ Market – held on Saturdays from 9.30am-1pm – possibly by working with musicians, bands and buskers to provide more variety.
Anyone with site suggestions, or who would like to discuss the development of RCMA Farmers’ Markets, can contact them on 029 2019 0036 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org