Views are now being sought on plans that could see the historic Darlington Indoor Market restored to its former glory and transformed into a modern retail and leisure destination.
Concept drawings showing the potential improvement and development of the Covered Market are being shown to residents, traders and businesses so they can have their say on the future of this iconic building.
Since taking over the management of the Market in 2017, Market Asset Management (Darlington) Ltd have undertaken extensive surveying and enablement works and are now putting forward two options to fulfil their mission to revitalise the historic market.
Option one would see MAM (Darlington) Ltd invest £2 million for improvement work including essential engineering and maintenance, relocating and reopening public toilet facilities, internal improvements to stall design and layout, new lighting and flooring and the creation of new retail space to incorporate a specialist ‘Market Republic’ selling fresh food, local produce and quality retail items from local suppliers. Small Offices would also be created on the upper mezzanine floor to encourage new businesses.
Option Two would see all of the investment described in the first option as well as a full-length winter garden feature facing out onto the market square. The winter garden would incorporate floor to ceiling heritage glazing to create a new expanded indoor area for retail, leisure and community events. This scheme would see the covered market become a more integral part of the Market Square linking it to outdoor events. This option would require additional funds of around £1.5m, bringing the total to approximately £3.5m.
Jonathan Owen, Director of MAM (Darlington Ltd) said:
“For the past year, much of our work has been behind the scenes. We are now ready to take things to a different level and unveil to local people our ambitious plans for this wonderful building.
“We are working with Darlington Borough Council to deliver improvements to the market whilst remaining sensitive to the history and heritage of the building. Over time, shoppers will see improved lighting, better facilities and a new approach to market shopping.”
Ian Williams, Darlington Borough Council’s director for economic growth and neighbourhood services said:
“These are really exciting proposals and we are keen to hear from residents which option they prefer. Option One will see welcome and much needed improvements; whilst Option Two will see the covered market transformed into a centrepiece asset in our regeneration plans for the town centre – a wow factor for the town that will draw people in from far and wide.
“The second option will require more investment and we want to ask residents what they think about both options. Do they want improvements to the market, or do they want to see more radical changes that will future-proof it for generations to come whilst still retaining what is unique and special about the building and the covered market as a shopping and leisure concept?”
“I want as many people to get involved as possible. Public opinion will help inform the council’s decision whether to opt for the extra investment or not.”
Display boards detailing both options are now in place in the Market Hall with “opinion boxes” where people can post their views. An online survey is also available at xxxxxx.
This is not a formal consultation on MAM’s plan, it is intended to illustrate the concepts being considered and to gauge general opinion prior to any next step. As the scheme progresses, MAM will submit a formal planning application that will be part of the normal planning process.