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Could Barnstaple's Pannier Market change?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 10:08am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

Artist's impression of how Butcher's Row, Pannier Market could look

It's losing money right now

Proposals to turn around the unprofitable Pannier Market in Barnstaple are to be explored.

North Devon Council’s strategy and resources committee is to carry out a review.

A report says that Pannier Market is running at a loss and doing nothing is not an option. The council aims to explore how it can ensure it is commercially successful. Maximising the potential of the cultural and commercial heart of the town centre is part of the Barnstaple vision, and the site is part of the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) programme that is set for £6.5 million of government funding.

The Pannier Market/ Guildhall/ former abattoir strand involves repurposing the market into a flexible space for a more diverse and ambitious programme of markets, events and community gatherings, with a new gateway through the market to the derelict abattoir creating additional studio space and further opportunities.

A report by Mike Tichford, head of place, highlights issues around the Pannier Market area that need addressing:

  • Repair and conservation work required to the historic fabric of the Pannier Market
  • Existing public toilets are closed which has an impact on visitor footfall and visit durations
  • Office space above the public toilets is not fit for purpose and needs refurbishment
  • Current archways with sliding doors onto Butchers Row require refurbishment and create a drafty internal environment, they also make it difficult to provide light and visual connection without further disruption to the internal environment (particularly in winter)
  • The size of the market hall can sometimes work against the successful operation of the market and its single open space does not provide opportunity for different simultaneous uses
  • The public right of way (PROW) cutting through the hall creates a drafty internal environment (wind tunnel effect), together with the drafty archways and lack of day/sun light it can create a difficult internal environment for users and visitors
  • The derelict abattoir site is not currently accessible
  • The relationship of the abattoir site with the current Youth House needs to be considered.

In the Barnstaple Vision, the key projects for the Pannier Market, Guildhall & Butchers Row is for it to be transformed into a new cultural and commercial heart, with five aims:

  • The regeneration and transformation of the historic Pannier Market to improve the commercial performance and create a cultural destination at the heart of the town centre.
  • The repair and refurbishment of the Guildhall to safeguard the historic fabric and internal remodelling to improve the storage and more importantly the display of historic objects and artefacts, improving and increasing public access for residents and providing an improved visitor experience.
  • To re-establish Butchers Row as a cultural and commercial destination. Reduce vehicular traffic, increase pedestrian access and improve the public realm to rebalance the priority between pedestrians and vehicles in favour of pedestrians. Encourage pedestrian footfall and allow the activities within the Pannier Market and Butchers Row to spill out into the space creating a destination.
  • To redevelop and transform the former abattoir site to establish a new creative community. Conversion of existing buildings and new build studios around a new public space Conversion of the former Corn Exchange to provide further studio space and a new ‘art cafe’ facing an events space within the market hall. A new pedestrian link between Butchers Row and the new creative community
  • To create active frontage facing the new Butchers Row public realm. Sensitive glazing of the arched entrances onto Butchers Row to provide better visual and physical connections between the market hall and Butchers Row

Councillors are being recommended to hire specialist market consultants to carry out a review and provide a report. They're to decide whether to spend £10,000 on it when they meet next week.

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