Ripon Market to be transformed into ‘piazza’ layout

elg. Ripon Market Square for Etc Magazine. 100607AR1pic6.
elg. Ripon Market Square for Etc Magazine. 100607AR1pic6.

A new ‘piazza-style’ layout will be introduced for Ripon’s Market Place in the new year after discussions between traders and Harrogate Borough Council.

The plans will be tested after Christmas and will see the replacement of the current corridor layout in favour of stalls around the market’s edge.

An open area has also been planned for the Obelisk, providing more space for shoppers to sit and relax, to make the square more attractive.

Initial plans to condense the market due to an increase in empty spaces and stalls were changed after discussions between traders and Patrick Kilburn, the head of parks and open spaces at the borough council.

Mr Kilburn said there had not been a review of the market layout for ‘decades’ and its reorganisation was to improve the flow of shoppers.

He said: “We have empty spaces in the market and some empty stalls but, rather than condense the market, we decided to reorganise it so there’s a better flow of people coming in to enjoy the experience.

“The concept is going to be a piazza feel where people can wander into the market space rather than go through rows and rows of market stalls.

“We are hoping by doing this the market becomes more attractive to visitors, local people and traders and hopefully the numbers can increase.”

The new plans would mean that some market stall holders would be moved under the reorganisation but Mr Kilburn is hoping this will encourage visitors to explore different areas.

Gareth Hart, owner of The Little Yorkshire Cheese Stall, said the majority of the traders felt ‘positive’ about the new layout and were not planning for a reduction in the market’s size.

He said: “With it being such a great square any way, it would benefit to open it up to the public so they can see from one end to the other .

“We have found that too many people using the market find too many dead ends and corridors then have to back track and their viewing point is obscured. It’s almost a no-brainer to reorganise it because the flow of people into it is not very natural.”

However, Ripon’s City Development Manager Alan Weston said he is ‘worried’ about the market’s future as market growth is not a national trend.

He said: “It is noticeable that there has been a reduction of stalls in recent weeks and the reorganisation will address this.

“However, you never know what’s round the corner and, once you go down to a smaller area it’s very difficult to go back up. It’s best to utilise the space rather than condensing.”