Consultation results show community support for Market Quarter
20 May 2022
A consultation that invited North Devon residents to comment on the exciting new 'Market Quarter' improvements coming to Barnstaple has revealed overall support for the plans.
North Devon Council's consultation, which took place between January and March this year, invited the North Devon community to have their say on the progress of the Market Quarter, which includes four transformation projects in the town centre. The aim of the consultation was to assess public support for the projects so far and gather ideas that may help to shape plans going forward. Overall, the feedback showed that the community believes the interventions will improve the experience of visiting the town centre.
701 surveys were completed both online and through paper copies at Green Lanes shopping centre, alongside display boards detailing the plans. This is the latest in a series of consultations that have shaped the Market Quarter project plans; the concepts were originally drawn up following the Barnstaple Vision consultation in 2019, then honed and developed through further consultations with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders in November 2021. The council says it intends to continue consulting with the public throughout the whole project, which is set to be delivered by the end of 2024.
The consultation findings, which are detailed in full on barnstaple.co.uk and the our website, include the following highlights in relation to each of the four strands of the project:
Pannier Market (reinventing and diversifying the market into a flexible space for a more varied and ambitious programme of markets, events and community gatherings)
- 78 % agreed that that plans would vastly improve the experience of visiting the market
- when asked what would encourage them to visit the market, the most popular responses included more stalls and shops with a higher quality of products (i.e. artisan, crafts), a more diverse food and drink offering and local produce/regular farmers markets
Boutport Street development (restoring and renovating the historic 36/37 Boutport Street into an exciting mixed-use development of workspace and town centre living, and creating a vital pedestrian gateway to the town)
- 79% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the connection between Queen Street car park and the town centre for visitors
- the most popular suggested uses for 36/37 Boutport Street were artists/craft workshops, performance space and cafes
Queen Street car park (changing and improving the main vehicular access routes into the Queen Street car park and redesigning the layout to create a clear pedestrian pathway to the town)
- 73% of all respondents agreed that merging Queen Street and Bear Street car parks will improve their visit
Butchers Row and Cross Street (pedestrianising (10am-4pm) the most distinctive street in the town, allowing traders to spill onto the street and visitors to eat and drink)
- 81% agreed that improving the street furniture, adding colour and more planting will improve their visit to the town centre
- 73% agreed that creating opportunities for more al fresco dining and street markets will encourage them to visit and stay longer
Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at North Devon Council, Councillor Malcolm Prowse says: "We are really pleased that the Market Quarter consultation has shown that our community is largely supportive of the interventions we are delivering in Barnstaple. We are incredibly excited about the improvements coming to the town centre and believe they will make Barnstaple a destination town the district can really feel proud of.
"We have sought out the views of our local community throughout the course of the project and we will continue to do so. It's really important to keep that dialogue going so that those who live, work in and visit the town can help shape plans as we progress."
The council says it has already made steps to incorporate some of the feedback into the projects. It issued an invitation for expressions of interest last month on the Boutport Street development to explore how businesses, groups and individuals might wish to use the space. Additional funds have been secured by the council to create a new access into the new car park directly from Alexandra Road. The internal project team is also now working with the design team to strengthen the sense of gateway from the car park into the town centre. In relation to the Pannier Market, a food and drink offering was tested over the Easter period to see how this could work on a larger scale.
More information on the Market Quarter projects is available at barnstaple.co.uk. The full consultation report is available on the council website and at www.barnstaple.co.uk/consultation-report.