City Mayor Announces £7m Investment Plan for Leicester Market

June 20, 2013

Proposals for a £7 million investment in Leicester’s 700-year-old market have been announced by City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

The City Mayor’s vision for the area includes a brand new building to replace the 1970s indoor market hall – and a scheme that would make the 19th century Corn Exchange the focus of the market once again.

But although the artist’s impressions unveiled today give an idea of how the redevelopment could look, there’s a long way to go before a planning application is submitted.

“These are exciting proposals for Leicester’s market,” said the City Mayor.

“It has been at the heart of city life for many generations – and I am determined that it should continue to thrive for generations to come.

“It is, however, in urgent need of investment, if it is to play its part in the city’s regeneration.

“But before we come up with a final scheme, we need input from the people who work there – and the views of the people who shop there.

“It’s vital that the scheme reflects both the needs of the area – and the needs of the traders.”

Early concept designs for the food hall show a glass and timber pavilion, lightly connected to the north side of the Corn Exchange by a glazed roof.

Inside, glued laminated timber beams would form large, clear spans, minimising the need for columns and maximising the flexibility of the useable floor space.

More space would be provided for meat, fish and deli stalls than is currently available in the market hall, with a flexible space for hot food stalls or temporary trading. Suspended lamps and natural daylight would ensure the space is well lit, insulated floors and ceilings would keep working conditions comfortable and new layouts would create an authentic market atmosphere.

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Outside, the demolition of the 40-year-old indoor market hall ¬– which is no longer fit for purpose – would allow an attractive public space to be created at the back of the Corn Exchange, framed by trees and opening up views of the surrounding heritage buildings.

The square could be used for a range of activities, helping to trigger new investment in areas currently suffering from a lack of footfall ¬and creating potential for new development at the rear of the Corn Exchange and Molly O’Grady’s.

Contemporary lock-ups could be introduced in the south-east corner of the outdoor market, providing flexible yet robust stalls for traders relocating from the indoor market.

New storage for dry goods would be created, with the basement of the old indoor market retained to provide further storage space and an extensive area for the recycling of market waste.

And public toilets, parking for disabled drivers and vehicle access for traders would be incorporated in the scheme.

Architects Greig & Stephenson produced the concept designs in response to the city council’s brief.

“We were asked to come up with a masterplan for the market that would increase footfall through the site by creating a new food hall, a new public space and new improved links to the rest of the city centre’s main shopping areas,” said director Nigel Stephenson.

“These very early concept designs suggest what could be done.

“Leicester Market sits within a conservation area, surrounded by many attractive buildings, and it needs to capitalise on its location. It’s clear that Leicester Market has the potential to be a major attraction on the scale of Borough Market in London – and it could even replicate the success of food markets in places like Barcelona and Madrid.”

By investing in the market, the city council hopes to encourage the regeneration of the surrounding area, attracting investors and developers to transform the shops and buildings in the adjoining streets.

Chairman of the Leicester branch of the National Market Traders’ Federation Paddy Deevey – who is the third generation of his family to run a fruit and veg stall at Leicester Market – has welcomed the proposals.

“We’ve been calling for this sort of investment for years so we’re extremely positive about the plans,” he said.

“Visitors to the city who discover the market for the first time tell me what a gem it is. What this project will do is to make it even better, while encouraging new investment in the area around it.

“Everyone knows that money is tight, so this commitment to the market at this time is very much appreciated.

“We welcome the project and look forward to discussing the proposals in more detail with the city council and our members during the consultation period.”

Consultation with the market traders will now get under way, giving those who work on the market the chance to comment on the redevelopment proposals and help the council fine-tune its plans.

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A wider public consultation will be launched in the New Year.

Planning permission will be sought early in 2013, with a view to completing work on the new food hall by Christmas 2013 and the overall scheme by the end of the following year.

The indoor market hall would not be demolished until the new food hall is completed, ensuring that trading could continue throughout the works.