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News - 8 April 2006
The Open Market

London Road Market to get a taste of Europe

Market traders and the city council are looking at plans to transform Brighton’s open market at London Road into a colourful continental-style food and crafts market. The 1930s fruit and veg market has been losing popularity since the sixties and is long over-due a revamp.

An outline scheme to give the market a new lease of life with more stalls, an emphasis on fresh, healthy, local produce, and workshops for arts and craftspeople, will be considered by members of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee on April 19.

Ideas for the council-owned market also include providing a venue for visiting markets, such as farmers’ markets and French markets, and space for street art and entertainment.

Now the Open Market Traders Association, working in conjunction with the city council, want to draw up a design study and business case for a new continental-style market. The traders association hopes to set up a ‘not for profit company’ to develop and operate a new market. They hope to build on the success of other food markets, which are enjoying a revival, such as London’s popular Borough Market.

The traders association’s draft proposals are for a £9 million redevelopment scheme for the market to provide 56 permanent market stalls, 20 visitor market stalls, 58 arts and craft workshops, plus 26 flats and apartments, 40% of which will be affordable homes.

The future uses of the adjacent Co-operative department store will be included in the design study. The Co-operative Group has recently announced its decision to exit from the department store sector and is currently considering options for the Brighton store’s future.

Redevelopment of the market site and the Co-operative store would help to regenerate and bring new vibrancy to the London Road shopping area, which is one of the main routes into the city.

The idea is currently only at an early stage. Councillors on the P&R committee will consider a recommendation that the traders association are given time to produce a detailed masterplan and business case, which will be presented to a future meeting.

Paul Reynolds from the Open Market Traders Association said, “The traders are really excited at the opportunity to shape our future, and working with Nick Lomax, who was involved in designing the Brighton Library, we feel that we can achieve a stunning result. We have yet to determine the final mix, but our early feasibility scheme is showing some great potential."

Councillor Don Turner, lead councillor for regeneration, said, “It is early days, but this is an exciting idea which could transform the London Road area and the Open Market and help promote fresh produce to a much wider range of shoppers and visitors.

“The Open Market and Co-op store have been an important part of the shopping scene in London Road for decades and I am delighted that the traders and the Co-op are now looking at ways of revitalising and extending the market for the 21st century.”

A spokesman for the Co-operative Group commented, “Given the clear wish of the market traders to redevelop their site close by, it makes practical planning sense for the department store site to be involved in the study’s remit. The Brighton store is one of a number which have been placed on the open market and all our options in terms of its future remain open.”

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