Opinion: Norwich market needs new approach
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
From Gentleman's Walk the Norwich Market lacks a clear entrance to draw shoppers in and alleyways are often cluttered, says reader Ken Turner.
You recently reported on empty stalls in Norwich Market.
Markets were originally established – to a great extent – for the sale of food, brought in from the countryside. The reason for the existence of markets has gone.
That's why Norwich market is not working. We need to turn it into something where people like to go. This site occupies a large central area in the city and it is promoted as a tourist destination and it must be very disappointing to any visitors who venture there.
Go and have a look at it.
The entrances from Gentleman's Walk are piled up with all sorts of goods, making it difficult to get in to other stalls further back.
This is the best area to attract customers into the market, as the 'Walk' is always busy. Are you enticed inside? No you are not because there is no easy way in.
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Would a shopping centre allow this? No. There would be a wide, bright and enticing entrance.
What should be done? Redesign the whole market place to lead people through the stalls. Create wide walkways with a 'Main Entrance' off Gentleman's Walk. Make a secondary entrance very visible from the Forum and another facing the Guildhall.
Introduce a central square or circle with seating areas and a public performance, display or promotion area. Relocate all the catering stalls together with seating and expand the range sold.
Promote local, quality, difference and tradition in the food to attract tourists and locals – as, of course, some businesses do already.
Group similar stalls together and create a signage that runs through the whole market and is copied on promotional material.
Get rid of the cheap 'tat' as small traders will never be able to compete with the £1 shops.
Keep some stalls in one area for casual traders let on a daily basis for anybody who wants to sell something. It could be surplus garden produce or crafts. They could be operated on a first come, first served basis. They would create interest and diversity on the market and some may eventually be able to migrate to long-term stalls. They could also house the 'French Market' when it comes to the city.
Perhaps it would be fairer competition for the other food traders if it was in the actual market.
Stop selling space for stalls in the Walk by Debenhams or any other areas in the city. Make them take a stall on the market if they want to trade in Norwich.
Hand the management of the market to a professional shopping centre management company.
It would then be run by people who know what attracts shoppers, would be aware of trends and be able to balance traders to get a good mix. None of this is difficult. The difficult part is changing the mind-set of those in charge to accept reality.
Ken Turner, Oakfield Drive, South Walsham