'Why won't they listen?' Traders unhappy with new Bridge Street market designs

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Artist representation of the proposed market units on Bridge Street

But Market traders have told Peterborough Matters, although they are happy with the location, they are not “entirely sure the current design of the units work for them”. 

The plans detaul 12 new external market stalls on Bridge Street, grouped into four gondolas to 'mimic the rhythm of the existing tree canopies above'. Each individual stall is 3x3m in area, and provides a self-contained lockable unit which can adapt to accommodate a variety of market traders.  

The plans also suggest, the retail lock-up stalls will have weatherproofing for retailers and customers and also come with adjustable counters to all open stalls and plenty of built-in reconfigurable storage options.  

Apart from this, the application also suggests provision will also be made for 12 temporary pop-up stalls. Along with this, and vacant retail units on Bridge Street could accommodate fishmongers and the market butchers.  

This planning statement has been prepared on behalf of Peterborough City Council by NPS Peterborough and Group Ginger. 

In a supporting statement they said: “The current market is currently outdated and requires significant investment, but it is also located on the outskirts of the City Centre with reduced footfall following the change of use of surrounding properties and reduced car parking.  

“This proposal will complement 33-37 Bridge Street which is proposed to be occupied by the Food Hall occupiers of the current market including butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers. With the external gondolas, a new, modern and positive market environment can be created which is accessible to all. 

Foodhall could possibly relocate to these units on Bridge Street

But market traders have told Peterborough Matters that though they are happy with the location, the current unit design does not work for them - and they do not feel listened to. 

Phil Woodland of Woodland Butchers said: “We have been asked to leave by March 31. We will move into the foodhall by then subject to its availability. 

“But we don't know what the rent and rates for the year is going to be. They said ‘high street’ rates but we are not high street retailers, we are market traders.

“We don't know who's paying for the moving costs and what timescales are we looking at.

“Mr Fitzgerald and other leaders said 'we will keep you in the loop' – and we have had nothing. They keep passing it on to others. 

“The designs look alright but the reality is we are going to be a big counter down – which is not going to work. The fishmonger should have been given the second biggest counter but he has a little counter. He doesn’t have enough room with his seven staff, keeping in mind the health and safety but he wasn’t taken into consideration. 

“They don’t want to help us out. So we are not happy with the units. “ 

Steve Wetherill, who runs a food and vegetable stall outside the market, echoed similar concerns: “It’s not about what you say but who you say it to, they are not listening. You can’t run an outdoor market store safely, securely and make profit and pay rent with those sorts of buildings. 

“It’s not just us – we are the ones speaking out but others are not in favour of these units either. It’s a disgrace really."

Steve said that he recently became so angry during a meeting with architects that he was nearly ejected: “The gondolas when folded take 25% of space when they are closed. That’s a waste of space for me, yet I pay full rent. 

“I am not sure these units are safe, secure and sturdy enough. I have told them I want to stand behind the counter, not stand outside with my till. It’s winding me up that they just don’t want to take our needs on board. 

“It feels like they they want us to fail, so they can get rid of the market and not spend any money.

"In June we were told they we will have a great future - nothing. This clearly is a rush job - they have now told the company to get it done as quickly as they can and as cheaply as they can. And if we can’t survive, these sheds will be taken down and it's gone. That’s their attitude.” 

Zafar Rahi who owns Coffee To Go said: “The shop is very small; they will not be enough space for all my stuff - I have quite a lot of expensive equipment so who is going to take responsibility? They say there is CCTV in the area, but who is going to take the chance?  

“I have been working here 18 years but in the last five years, business has gone down big time and we needed something to boost our business. I am happy with the new location but not the size and design of the unit.”