Consultation results show community support for Market Quarter
A consultation that invited North Devon residents to comment on exciting new ‘market district’ improvements coming to Barnstaple revealed broad support for the plans.
The North Devon Council 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 gauge public support for the projects so far and gather ideas that could help shape future plans. Overall, the feedback showed that the community believes the interventions will improve the downtown visitor experience.
701 surveys were completed both online and on paper at the Green Lanes shopping centre, along with notice boards detailing the plans. This is the latest in a series of consultations that have shaped the plans for the Market Quarter project; the concepts were initially developed following the Barnstaple Vision consultation in 2019, then refined and developed through further consultation with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders in November 2021. The council said it had intends to continue public consultation throughout the project, which is expected to be delivered in late 2024.
The results of the consultation, which are detailed in full on barnstaple.co.uk and the council’s website, include the following highlights in relation to each of the four components of the project:
Market Basket (reinventing and diversifying the market in a flexible space for a more varied and ambitious program of markets, events and community gatherings)
- 78% agreed that these projects would significantly improve the market visit experience
- when asked what would encourage them to visit the market, the most popular responses included more stalls and shops with better quality products (ie.
Development of rue Bouport (restoration and refurbishment of historic 36/37 Boutport Street into an exciting mixed-use development of downtown working and living space, and creation of a vital pedestrian gateway to the city)
- 79% of respondents strongly agree or agree that the connection between the Queen Street car park and downtown for visitors
- the most popular suggested uses for 36/37 Boutport Street were artist/craft studios, performance venues and cafes
Queen Street parking lot (alter and improve the main vehicle access routes to the Queen Street car park and redesign the layout to create a clear pedestrian route into the city)
- 73% of all respondents agreed that the merger of Queen Street and Bear Street car parks will improve their visit
Butchers Row and Cross Street (pedestrianization (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) of the most characteristic street of the city, allowing traders to overflow into the street and visitors to eat)
- 81% agreed that improving street furniture, adding color and more planting will improve their visit to downtown
- 73% agreed that creating opportunities for more outdoor restaurants and street markets will encourage them to visit and stay longer
Senior Member of Economic Development and Regeneration at North Devon Council, Councilor Malcolm Prowse said: “We are really pleased that the Market Area consultation has shown that our community is broadly supportive of the interventions we are carrying out in Barnstaple. We We are extremely excited about the upcoming improvements to the town center and believe they will make Barnstaple a destination town the district can truly be proud of.
“We have sought the views of our local community throughout the project and will continue to do so. It is really important to maintain this dialogue so that those who live, work and visit the city can help shape the plans as we are progressing.”
The board says it has already taken steps to incorporate some of the feedback into drafts. He issued an invitation for expressions of interest in the Boutport Street development last month to explore how businesses, groups and individuals might wish to use the space. Additional funds have been secured by the council to create new access to the new car park directly from Alexandra Road. The in-house project team is also now working with the design team to reinforce the sense of the gateway from the car park to the city center. In connection with the Marché Pannier, a catering offer was tested over the Easter period to see how it could work on a larger scale.
More information on Market Quarter projects is available at www.barnstaple.co.uk/projects. The full consultation report is available on the council’s website and at www.barnstaple.co.uk/consultation-report.