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Covered Market plans are to include rooftop eateries
Buy this photo » Gordon Piggott, of McCarthy’s fruit and veg. Picture: OX63118 Damian Halliwell
A MULTI-million pound expansion has been proposed to revive Oxford’s historic Covered Market.
Almost £4m would be spent on making it nearly a third bigger – and an extra storey would be built to accommodate a rooftop cafe.
Consultants have drawn up the plans in an effort to turn the market into one of the best in Europe.
Now Oxford City Council, which owns the market, says it will think very seriously about the proposals.
And traders there have broadly welcomed the plans – while questioning whether some aspects are too ambitious.
David Edwards, the council’s executive director for housing and regeneration, said: “There are some great traders there, but it does need a change to up its game.
“There is a role for everybody in that – for the council and the traders.
“It is about everyone taking a long, hard look at the opportunities here.”
The report from the consultancy firm The Retail Group was commissioned by the city council to find ways to bring more shoppers in.
It was unveiled by the city council yesterday and in it the firm says the Covered Market “has the potential to be one of the best markets in the country, if not Europe”.
It says that a second storey with four or five cafes or restaurants should be built and an open balcony constructed on top of the market in Market Street.
The report also includes proposals for creating a new facade in Market Street where parking would be banned and stalls set up as well as events being held there.
But it also suggests smaller-scale improvements, such as appointing a manager with complete responsibility for the market, creating a new website, better signs and making it cleaner.
Gordon Piggott, of McCarthy’s fruit and veg, said: “I am positive about the fact that the city council seems to want to do something about the Covered Market.
“It would be nice if the place was brightened up a bit and there is potential here. Advertising the market and sign-posting could be better.”
But John Gowing, of John Gowing Jewellers, said the recommendations to add a floor onto the market were unrealistic.
He said: “The council earns a lot of money from the Covered Market so they need to give something back.
“Having a Covered Market manager is a good idea because they could keep an eye on the general cleanliness of the market.”
The Retail Group has worked on markets such as Spitalfields, Portobello Road and Manchester Arndale.
Mr Edwards emphasised that none of the proposals were council policy yet and there would be consultation with the traders and the public before action is taken.
He said: “This is not a blueprint, but it bears very serious consideration because it is evidence-based. If the traders don’t recognise some of the things which have been raised, it would be very surprising.”
City councillor Colin Cook, the executive board member for city development, said: “These are ideas from the consultants we have appointed and I am interested to hear what the traders and the general public think.”
The city council’s consultation will begin next week.
See page 6 on Westgate Centre plans.
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