Two Years in the Wilderness!

In the new design chosen for Northampton Marketplace, the market traders have been sentenced to two years in the wilderness; the well-being of the market traders seems to have been the very last thing to be taken into consideration. This shows the arrogance of the designers Quarterbridge, and the amazing lack of human interest by local Councillors.

Or are they deliberately trying to kill off Northampton Market once and for all? Local people are worried that if traders have to leave Northampton Marketplace for two years, they will never be coming back. The market traders are to be moved from the Marketplace for a period of at least two years, into the wilderness of who knows where? No venue has yet been decided, although odd choices have already been discussed, like the closed Debenhams building in the Drapery, and a site somewhere in the Sixfields complex. Presumably it is hoped this will kill off most of the remaining traders of what used to be a very busy market.

Why cannot our traders be gradually moved across the Marketplace as work progresses? This has happened on every previous occasion when changes have been made to the layout and paving of the Market Square, and has helped retain customers. This has to be the safest and most sensible solution.

For those traders (if any) who survive this long period of being out in the cold, they will return after two years to find they have been moved from the top of the marketplace, from what are probably the only viable trading positions in what is now a poor market, to an area in the shadow of buildings at the bottom of the market, where there is no natural flow of shoppers, and where in winter there is no sunshine at all. 'Death Row' this area used to be called, even in the days of a bustling market.

It should be obvious that very few people, particularly the older and less able shoppers, are going to come out of the Grosvenor Centre and make the long detour to the bottom of the marketplace to pick up fruit and vegetables, which weigh heavily, and then stagger all the way back up to the bus station near the top of the market. Was this scenario envisaged by the 'designers'? We think not. It is likely they did not for a moment consider the well-being of the traders and their local customers. Quarterbridge have a bad record for public space design in both Stockport and Cambridge, according to the local people, so quite why they were taken on by West Northants Council is puzzling. Rumours of a brown envelope job have been circulating on social media.

When it is considered that the so-called 'public consultation' on this marketplace design involved only 1000 people, and that this is less than half of 1% of the population of Northampton, it is clear that this has been at best a contrived result. It in no way represents the views of the majority of the people who live here in Northampton and do not want to lose their traditional market.