Published: 10:50, 26 March 2020
| Updated: 10:52, 26 March 2020
Controversial plans to give a busy high street a £630,000 facelift have been put on hold, it has been revealed.
Canterbury City Council wants to transform St George's Street, Canterbury, into a leafy boulevard with an avenue of trees, new paving, and a performance space.
But critics of the scheme claim the authority is attempting to sanitise the popular shopping thoroughfare as one of the casualties of the development would be the twice-weekly market.
However, in the wake of the growing coronavirus pandemic, the city council has put the project on ice.
A spokesman said: "The St George's Street consultation is currently ongoing and was due to close on Sunday, April 19.
"However, as the situation with coronavirus is changing daily, and many of the people who would have liked to respond will now be unable to, we have decided to postpone it from March 29.
"We will let you know when the consultation will start again, and how long for.
"Thank you for your understanding during this period of unprecedented events."
The consultation was launched by the local authority towards the end of last month.
A petition to save the market quickly attracted thousands of signatures, as well as the support of Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield and the Labour group on the city council.
Its leader, Alan Baldock, previously told KentOnline: "Canterbury's market has been part of our city centre for a very long time.
"But will this generation of market traders be the last, sacrificed by Canterbury City Council as the collateral damage needed to enable their proposed gentrification of public space?
"The refurbishment must be the catalyst that drives a holistic change, not sanitise what residents and visitors see, nor to end up becoming nothing more than a tacky, extended shop front to big business."
No new alternative locations for the market have been put forward, although stallholders currently have permission to operate in Iron Bar Lane and Burgate Lane - streets they claim are unsuitable.
The city council has previously said that managers at neighbouring Whitefriars fear the market is putting off new businesses moving into the authority-owned shopping centre.
More by this authorJack Dyson