• Friday , 7 August 2020

Investing in Surrey Street Market – now £1.1m

Last year we held a well-publicised and attended meeting with market traders, local businesses and the general public. Lots of ideas were generated and presented, but overwhelmingly the traders and local business wanted the initial £500K investment spent on:

  • Improving the carriageway – levelling it out (so their stalls are not on the kerb);
  • De-cluttering the street (there are 86 posts currently) to make it easier for visitors to walk up and down;
  • Improving the lighting;
  • Installing better power supplies for stalls;
  • Improving signage at each end of the market;
  • Sign posting the market from the stations and town centre.

People also wanted to see:

  • Public art;
  • Architectural and creative lighting;
  • An arch or other feature at the entrance;
  • Greater use of the street in the evenings and weekends;
  • A Sunday market.

Since then these plans have been well publicised in the local press, at a dedicated stall in the market, in regular press releases and updated in my monthly bulletin. I have also met traders, local business owners and residents to discuss these plans. We have visited other markets, spoken to other traders and looked at what has worked in other towns. Additionally we spent a lot of time exploring the possibility to the market being in the centre of the street, thus freeing up the sidewalks – however there are issues both with power supply and emergency service access, which means that this is now unlikely.

We organised the very successful Pride event on Surrey Street, to show it could be used for events and created the book exchange and public art – plus free Wi-Fi in the Street – all of which has been welcomed by traders, businesses and visitors.  The air conditioning units will be painted and a local artist will install a creative light design under the bridge. The outside of the old Advertiser building has also been painted and renovated by the Dice Bar. The Sunday traders also have a good local following of customers and they specifically asked if they could keep trading while the works continues.

50 people attended our drop in meeting on January 12th – this meeting was primarily targeted to those who will be directly impacted by the works, however it was well publicised including:

  • Leaflets were handed out to traders, shops and residents in December
  • Leaflets were displayed in shop windows (some are still there now)
  • Leaflets were given to Beats and Eats to help distribute to their network
  • Copies were emailed to key residents with a request to help spread the word
  • Leaflets were left on the Whitgift Centre information desk
  • Traders and shops were re-leafleted the week before the meeting as a reminder
  • All businesses, including the Dog and Bull received a leaflet (and they have since confirmed they got one)
  • A message was put out on LBC Social Media (twitter and facebook)

The proposals do not change anything fundamental to Surrey Street Market and, once complete, will have no negative impact on regular market users. The proposals are to help the traders, increase footfall and boost life into the street environment and primarily provide aesthetic improvements.

At the meeting I was pleased to announce that a further £600k has been found from S106 money to invest in the 700 year old market. The feedback from this meeting was positive – although traders are obviously keen to know when and for how long the work will take. We are awaiting the report from engineers before we know whether the market needs to move or not – although stall holders will be kept informed and involved and we plan for the works to be complete before the summer. At the meeting the following points were made:

  • The need to communicate regularly with the market traders regarding start dates and future disruption (including whether they will need to move while the works are taking place or whether the work can be done in phased approach). No decision has been made yet, but the market has moved previously for events or carriageway works.The owners of Exchange Square would be happy to host the market if needed.
  • The importance of the signage and way-finding, both at the market and across the town centre, including the possibility of an archway at the entrances
  • A clear need for barriers or intervention needed to reduce vehicles entering Surrey Street unlawfully.
  • A need to protect the cultural heritage of the market, whilst creating a unique and interesting space.
  • Seating – whether it be temporary or permanent – essential.
  • An option to improve the market stalls to be reviewed.
  • Option to provide toilet facilities to be reviewed (there are toilets for traders, but the public toilets under the bridge are completely unusable)

The architects have now completed the design amendments, which have been sent to the contractors to continue with their detailed design. We will then get an update on their programme to confirm start on site/completion dates. The scheme also went to the Place Review Panel on 24th Jan and he bridge artwork has gone through planning.

We will hold a further engagement meeting in Feb (most likely the 23rd) to discuss ideas such as:

  • Creative lighting;
  • Public art;
  • New improved stalls;
  • Better signage (including the possibility of an arch or other feature) at each end of the Street.

We are keen that as many people as possible can input their ideas so will also send out an online survey shortly. We are also talking to landlords about opening up some of the empty units on the Street, which will again attract greater footfall to the area, boosting trade.

Anyone who wants to input to the plans, wants further information or has any ideas is very welcome to contact me at mark.watson@croydon.gov.uk

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