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FEATURE • SCUNTHORPE 17
 Scunthorpe’s new £4 million market has started life on a high note, with a waiting list for stalls and excellent footfall. Nicola Gould reports
 When North Lincolnshire Council told market traders of its plans to close their existing building and move them outside, the proposal went down like a lead balloon.
Traders like Wendi Betts, who started a thriving jewellery business on the market 19 years ago, were appalled at the proposal, as were the butchers and other traders who faced losing their livelihoods because outdoor trading was not viable for them.
But all’s well that ends well. Wendi asked the NMTF for help and its advice and, combined with a petition signed by 20,000 people opposed to the plan, there was a rethink.
Jenny Couch, the council’s place development and marketing lead, said the old market building was 75 years old and had needed major investment.
The market had originally been outdoors on Market Hill, and the council must have calculated that relocating traders there would save them a pretty penny.
Once that was ruled out, it looked at a number of options including a new build, but the former BHS store next to The Parishes Shopping Centre was available and in the end the decision was made to relocate the market there.
Many of the traders remained sceptical, but contractors started work in January 2018 and the new look market opened its doors to the public on schedule on March 22.
“The old market was very dark and dated and the number of vacant units was growing,” Jenny said. “There used to be an outdoor market at the back but that died out about
10 years ago. The market was no longer in the retail heart of town — people talk about an ‘invisible barrier’ and it seems that fewer people were going out of their way to visit
the market, although it wasn’t far from its new site, but it was not an inviting shopping environment,” she added.
The good news is that the new market, renamed St John’s after the nearby church, is already attracting great footfall and positive feedback.
Although the building is a former BHS store, it is unrecognisable as such. The only feature the designers retained were the central escalators. Everything else was swept away and a large section of the first floor used by BHS as storage has been opened up to reveal vast windows across one side, with pipes and lighting above creating a light, bright, trendy, industrial-style ambience.
The units, made from Scunthorpe-produced steel, were designed in consultation with the individual traders who would be using them.
Smart metal shutters mean traders can shut up shop and open up in seconds, without worrying about their stock.
The general market, which opens 8am to 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, is on the ground floor, with most of the units taken by existing traders. Upstairs there is a central area of street food businesses, most of them new to the market, with a seating area to the front with a gin bar,
a café and bar, and a unit offering crêpes and other treats for those with a sweet tooth.
Stalls selling everything from shabby chic products and furniture to a beauty salon and hairdressers are located on the periphery.
In the old market, the latter had a curtain across to give customers some privacy. The new units are a world away with glass frontage and bright, modern décor.
The seating area links to the adjacent cinema and multi-storey car park, so that shoppers can access the market on each level, including many who park up and walk through the market to reach the town centre. It helps that the first two hours of parking is free.
Outside are lines of bus stops and the market
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