Page 27 - MarketTimesJune2016
P. 27

 Will hope triumph over experience in Chester?
Chester Market is in line for a multi-million pound investment which will see the 1960s building demolished and a new market at the heart of the proposed £300 million Northgate Development. The trouble is,
    it is déjà vu for the traders who have seen two similar projects fall by the wayside. Nicola Gould reports
The artist’s impressions are convincing. The figures involved and the scale of the Northgate development project are mind boggling. And the enthusiasm of the developers, councillors and market management is contagious.
But a significant number of market traders are yet to be convinced that the future of their businesses is rosy, and, more pertinent still — can they survive the interim years of uncertainty and construction until the new market opens in 2019 at the earliest?
These are the daily concerns of the traders who are struggling in the dated, 1960s market hall where footfall is not great.
On the positive side, Chester is a buzzing city with a wealth of history, which makes it a
mecca for tourists. It has Roman origins, an amphitheatre, ancient wall and attractive listed black and white buildings. No wonder visitors and tourists flock here.
There is a strong retail offer ranging from modern shopping centres to the unique and famous Rows, the buildings with open walkways across the first floor which are now home to shops, pubs and restaurants.
The market tradition is strong. The market charter dates back to 1208 and the old market hall, opened in 1863, was a hive of activity until the magnificent building was knocked down in 1967.
In its early years in its new home, the market did well. Butcher Mark Johns, who has worked in the market for 41 years, the past 31
of them spent running Ferryhough’s butchers, remembers the days when people queued four- deep at his stall.
“I have seen a lot of change — we started with just marble slabs and a cold store. We still buy as much of our meat as we can locally and have very loyal customers. And if the new plans go through, I think the market will do well again,” said Mark.
But many of his fellow traders have doubts about whether the plans will come to fruition, and almost everyone is concerned about the years of uncertainty and disruption.
Traders were promised a new market in the late 1990s, but Scottish Widows pulled out of the development. Another proposed development, this time involving ING,

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