Summary of engagement proposals for the markets and cinema
Investment is needed to secure the future sustainability of the historic market town. Engagement was focused on enhancing the market offer through the development of the Markets Quarter. The proposals included:
- Combining and transforming the Market and Food Hall, Alexandra Cinema and Market Square to include a new eating quarter, a state of the art cinema, a remodelled entertainment and events venue and a high quality market space
- Attracting investment in these important heritage buildings to make the Markets Quarter a more attractive destination
- Changes to attract greater footfall and increase the time visitors spend in the area, extending into the evening, and so supporting the wider town centre economy
- Opening up access and making improvements to the Market Square to allow events to take place, including greening the area and providing seating.
The plans highlighted public and community benefits that would support local businesses. The proposals were designed to encourage the high street and town centre to function as a community hub and visitor destination by supporting mixed-use flexible space which provide improved social, economic and community cohesion.
877 people responded to the markets quarter survey.
Feedback summary, markets and cinema
- 86% agree the market is important to the town but it is not seen as a destination in its own right, with only 13% visiting specifically
- 69% of market frequent users respondents are aged 45 years and over, of which 26% are retired. It appeals less to younger people
- Fresh food purchases were the key reason for visiting the markets, followed by hot food and snacks. Household goods were the predominant retail driver. Friendly independent traders, fresh produce, value for money, character and heritage were the main draw
- Amongst those who have never visited, the markets were seen as an important opportunity for local businesses even if it didn’t hold a particular attraction. Overall there was a desire for better quality/variety of artisan stalls and a wider range of food produce
- Despite rents having been frozen for several years or dropped to encourage more traders, there was a perception that rents were too high
- 71% of respondents wanted to see a wider independent shop offer, 60% wanted more live music and evening entertainment and 51% wanted a food hall with independent street food and drink offer
- The most popular type of event was a Christmas Market, with 74% of respondents saying they would wish to attend, followed by 65% for cinema events and 64% for live music gigs
- The incorporation of the Alexandra Cinema and the Market Hall is one of the key points of the proposed plans which has attracted opposition, with 200 qualitative comment responses received, predominantly focused on retaining the cinema and theatre space. Many seemed unaware that the cinema operator was already committed to moving into new facilities. There also seemed to be some misunderstanding that the building would be demolished, rather than internally reconfigured
- 81% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would visit the town centre to enjoy local live music, entertainment and comedy events
- The public survey showed widespread support for the scheme in principle, with a desire for more fresh food retail, the addition of street food and a modern market aesthetic to emulate markets like Spitalfields.
Feedback stakeholder and trader summary - markets quarter
- When traders were asked what the impact would be on the market hall of the addition of street food and dining, results were mixed, with 40% positive or strongly positive, 40% negative or very negative and 20% undecided. All Food Hall respondents supported the addition of street food
- The key concern for traders was pop-up style flexible retail stalls and the potential loss of securable retail space
- Stakeholders agreed that both the indoor and outdoor markets were disappointing with regeneration welcomed
- Two submissions on behalf of a stakeholder, who had canvassed its membership, were supportive of regeneration in principle, but objected to the loss of a dedicated theatre space with a dedicated raised stage and accompanying layout
- Key things the stakeholders would like to see were reformatting the space, redesigning the later Food Hall addition, adding makers and craft units and developing the fresh food and food produce offer
- 75% of stakeholder and traders who responded believed that the Alexandra Cinema and Market Hall should be redeveloped into one interconnecting facility.
Changes proposed based on the feedback
Trader concerns regarding a flexible retail space and secure pop-up stalls will be addressed at the detailed design stage of the project prior to planning
Maintaining the Alexandra Cinema as an independent community space as suggested in the feedback is not viable without subsidy, but discussions will continue over how to maximise the benefits of the proposed flexible multi use space so it can provide a variety of live artistic, musical and theatrical events as well as a high quality food, drink and market space.
These concept drawings provide an idea of what the Markets Quarter could look like:
Inside the Alexandra Cinema
Inside the Food Hall
Aerial view of the Market and Food Hall
Inside the Market Hall
Outside the Market Hall
Display boards for all the Future High Street Fund images will soon be available in the shop unit opposite Wilkos, Market Walk, Newton Abbot.