We are exploring how the design, appearance and daytime, evening and night-time use of Market Square can be enhanced, while being sensitive to the site’s obvious heritage value and retaining its market function.
We are currently at the very early planning stage of the multi-stage project. We are yet to identify and secure any of the multi-million pound investment that is likely to be required to deliver any resulting scheme.
We are not inviting comments on any aspect of the project at this stage. Opportunities to provide feedback will be advertised as part of the public consultation over the autumn of 2020.
Stage 1: Feasibility assessment
The first stage of the project was to produce a feasibility assessment. We completed this in July 2019, with the support of international architecture, engineering and urban-design consultants.
The report identifies how the Market Square space currently operates, and considers the associated issues, constraints and opportunities. It makes recommendations, which are being used to inform the next stage of the project.
Stage 2: Concept design
We expect to start work on the concept design stage of the project in the early summer of 2020.
The key objectives for this stage are as follows:
- To develop a proposed vision for Market Square, in terms of its physical appearance, use and management, covering both day and night-time periods.
- To develop a core concept design for the square, with options for different elements, covering both day and night-time periods.
- To incorporate a continued daytime general and Sunday market, but with an improved design that enhances both the market offer and overall visitor experience of the space.
- To maximise the ability to use the space for other activities at times when not being used by the general or Sunday market.
- To enhance the quality of the public realm offer and associated furniture provision, including waste management and seating.
- To ensure the underground structures associated with the square, including drainage pipes and culverts (structures that allow water to flow below roads) are physically sound and able to function effectively.
- To conserve and enhance the heritage value of the space.
In support of the proposed concept design, we will also undertake an outline investment appraisal of its capital and revenue investment needs to identify how these might be met.
Stakeholder engagement and public consultation
As part of the concept design stage, we held a series of engagement events with a range of stakeholders in early 2020, to set the vision and help shape the concept design. We will do this with the aim of producing a proposed design for consideration by committee in the summer of 2020.
Subject to securing committee approval, the proposed concept design will then go out to public consultation in the autumn of 2020. We will not be seeking the views of the public before this stage.
The results of the consultation, together with any proposed changes to the design, will be reported back to committee in March 2021, for approval to progress to the next stage.
Stage 3: Detailed design
Subject to securing concept design approval in March 2021, and obtaining the necessary budget provision to proceed, work on the detailed design will start in late spring 2021.
The assessment of any detailed design proposals and resulting planning application for Market Square will consider the impact the proposals might have on listed buildings. It will also consider their potential impact on the character and appearance of the Historic Core Conservation Area, which includes Market Square. The Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal will inform any detailed design assessment.
We will not make any decision on surfacing treatments until the project has reached the detailed design stage.
Stages 4 and 5: Planning and implementation
There is currently no timetable for any work past the detailed design stage in March 2021.
The planning and implementation stages of the project will be planned following agreement of the concept design, subject to securing the required funding.
If the project proceeds to the planning stage, any submitted planning application will be subject to formal public consultation.