New scheme aims give King’s Lynn market a new lease of life
f you are heading down to the Friday Market in King's Lynn today you may be in for a surprise – as the once thriving hub is now down to just a solitary hotdog van.
Held on the Tuesday Market Place, it used to be a popular venue for traders selling their wares. It is now in decline – but the council are hoping that a Test the Market scheme combined with a £900,000 redevelopment can see a return to the glory days.
'The national picture is that markets don't do very well at the moment because of the growth of the internet and sites like Ebay,' said Chris Banfield, executive director of Leisure and Public Space for West Norfolk Borough Council.
'There are also value shops. Lots of town centre shops like Poundland and Primark are selling products that you might get from a market.'
The initiative has been run previously by the council and allows traders to try out the market with a free pitch. Previously as many as 30 traders have taken part in the scheme, returning the market to its vibrant past.
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'With Test the Market we are offering a free week in every month –that applies to existing traders as well as new ones,' said Mr Banfield.
'We also have stalls that we can set up free of charge so if people would like to come and try it out they can.
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'The big thing for us is the redevelopment of the Tuesday Market Place. We intend to start work in July.'
Plans for the redevelopment include the pedestrianisation of one of the roads round the Tuesday Market Place, levelling the paving and the possibility of a power supply infrastructure for market stalls.
The £900,000 redevelopment would also see the car park area pushed back with the market moving so that stalls could be seen from the high street.
There will also be the opportunity for restaraunts to have outside seating with the hope of developing a 'café culture'.
'We've also got some money from the outside town supermarkets from a Section 106 agreement to enhance the markets,' said Mr Banfield.
'The problem that you've got is that historically King's Lynn used to have a big market at its centre. Now the centre of the town has moved.'
The Friday Market started on a Thursday in 1981 and of the town's three markets is the only one that does not have a royal charter.