The architect responsible for Barnsley’s new market - which opens within days – took inspiration from London’s ultra-fashionable Borough Market to come up with a scheme maintains the town’s existing traditions but provides a modern home for stallholders.
Trading starts in the new market hall on Friday November 2, with an official opening the following day, and contractors are now putting finishing touches to the project, which thrusts the market into the heart of the town centre, rather than leaving it hidden behind shops as the layout of the old Metropolitan Centre did.
Architect Seamus Lennon, who works for the firm IBI, visited Borough Market as part of the research for the project and borrowed some of the factors which make that market so successful to help guide the development of Barnsley’s new hall.
One factor he has had to contend with has been creating bespoke designs for the dozens of traders it will house, with stalls designed to suit their business needs.
The planning process has been aided by the use of virtual reality technology – allowing traders to wear goggles and ‘walk through’ the complex to see their stall, thanks to computer wizardry.
Although Mr Lennon has been involved in many market redesigns, Barnsley’s is the first where such technology has been available and he said it have been a real advantage: “We have done 11 markets previously and we have relied on drawings,” he said.
“A lot of people struggle with drawings. The technology was a complete game changer.”
In addition to its fresh look, the market also enjoys natural light, with the design created with atriums which allow the ground as well as first floor sections to benefit.
Coun Roy Miller said a key objective of the project had been to keep the market at the heart of the town centre and said he was delighted with the results: “I am astounded by the work that has been done,” he said.
“Our traditional market will be maintained, but the facilities will be ultra-modern. When people see it, they will be really pleased.
“We have delivered on our promise to keep the market at the heart of the town centre.”
The council’s head of economic development, Paul Clifford, added: “I come from Barnsley and know the market is so important, in terms of the town’s identity.
“The opening will be a momentous occasion in the town’s redevelopment. It is a fantastic asset.”
Later in November three cafes will move into what will become the ‘Market Kitchen’ food court and more phases will follow as further sections of the complex are completed during 2019.