I WELCOME the idea of creating an artisan market in Northwich but to describe it as being like the successful Altrincham model is somewhat misleading.

Altrincham has become one of the region’s most exciting foodie destinations but it is steeped in history and heritage and follows intense research to get it just right.

Like Northwich, the town saw lots of empty shops and falling trade.

The Grade II old market house is beside the town’s covered market hall which dates back to the 19th century.

The man behind the transformation, Nick Johnson, re-invented Alty Market after talking to traders and residents about what they wanted.

Five specialist food outlets now serve dishes from all over the world around a cluster of communal tables.

Around £750,000 was spent on the renovation.

In the adjacent Victorian covered market, stallholders sell everything from vintage clothes, shoes, antiques and crafts to fresh fish, local cheeses and artisan breads. It is all top quality stuff and served by people who have a real passion for markets.

There is a different theme every weekend so the stalls change. More international food is available in another seating area where entertainers perform on a live music stage. There is even a woodfired pizza oven.

There is always a lively atmosphere and lots of people but this market is in the middle of the town near shops, bars and restaurants. It really has made a huge difference The proposed J&S Motorcycle store is too far away from Barons Quay and the shops to create the same buzz and excitement.

Trying to create a vibrant artisan market hall in a two-storey building on the edge of the town will be a big challenge.

The council says work must begin within three years. In the meantime Northwich market traders and small retailers face an uphill struggle to attract customers surrounded by so many empty units and boarded up buildings.

Dorothy Williams Northwich