'Exciting milestone' as £4.6m market regeneration begins
- Credit: Archant
The 'milestone' redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's Market Place is at long last under way - with part of the car park now blocked off to facilitate the first phase of the move.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's £4.6m investment will see existing market stalls moved north into new units.
According to the council, these will sit under an "architecturally-striking wooden canopy" which lends itself to a brighter, more inviting environment.
The "phased" approach to the regeneration began this week as fencing was erected around the southern third of the Market Place car park, which will serve as the new site compound.
"Phasing in" the changes allows traders in the current market to stay open during construction works, with owners moving into their new stalls in three phases: summer, autumn and then winter.
In the meantime, access remains to the car park, with a walkway providing a route to the northern entrance of the existing six-day market facilities.
The two-day market traders, however, will relocate temporarily from this Saturday to the Market Square events area to the south.
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Coming in at £4.6m, the major investment is being funded by the council itself, topped-up with cash from the Future High Streets Fund. A portion of this is also being used to fund landscaping improvements within the wider Market Place area.
Carl Smith and Trevor Wainwright said the start of works was an "exciting milestone".
"People can look forward to a brighter, more inviting market in the heart of the historic Market Place, with improved market facilities and a unique design which complements the historic setting, supports the wider town centre", they said.
“Over the next three to four years, more than £200m of public sector investment is going into Great Yarmouth, of which we’ve secured £42m in the last seven months alone."
For the traders themselves, there's still uncertainty about when they will make the transition to their new stall.
Thoko Dawes - also known as Big Mama - has run her cake stall since February last year.
She's been given July as the date of her move, and as far as she's concerned it "can't come soon enough".
"I'm all for modernising, and something big needs to happen ASAP to get people back into Yarmouth town centre," she explained.
"For me the move is easier because I've only been here a year and I'm not as attached as some of the others are.
"But if they're spending £4m it's got to be worth it. I just hope they do something to help bring back the big shops which are all closing too. A new market isn't enough to increase footfall on its own."
Sean Dearn, from S & L Dearn Fruit and Vegetables, is a third-generation market stall owner who moved to the six-day market in 1998.
He said he was looking forward to relocating as the council had given him his preferred location - more central, and away from the entertainers which currently congregate in front of his site.
"It's not too much hassle at all for us to move: it'll probably cost a grand in total," he said.
Father and son Gary and John Salmon, whose Pie and Peas stall has been in their family since 1946, said thinking about the future was all "guesswork" at the moment.
"We're not sure when we'll be moving", they said. "We've been given some different dates but nothing concrete.
"It's hard to know what difference it'll make at the moment, because I think all of that will depend on how many of the big shops around us make it through the pandemic."
Stephen Carr, who has run Carr's Chip Saloon for 33 years, was less optimistic about the move.
"This set-up we have now cost me £75,000 and it'll probably cost even more at the new site", he said.
"All the fryers and equipment are extremely expensive to move. The council has offered us an interest-free loan to kit out our new stall, but we'd rather not have to take that.
"A lot of people here see their stalls as their retirement, but the move and loan will spoil those plans for many of us."