The Covered Market Picture by Ed Nix

As Oxford city centre’s ‘jewel in the crown’, a new masterplan has been revealed to transform the Covered Market and safeguard it for future generations of shoppers.

Oxford City Council has revealed its masterplan, which will explore how the market can be made more enticing, Plans include improving entrances, in particular the Market Street area, while encouraging us to spend more time in the market by enhancing the central open spaces, introducing seating and encouraging events there.

The old Hedges Butchers at The Covered Market, Oxford. Picture by Ed Nix

The City Council has already appointed architects and designers to deliver the project, and the masterplan will be used to research the best way to do so, how much the Covered Market’s regeneration might cost and how to fund it.

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture, said: “The aim of the masterplan is to come out of the coronavirus pandemic with a solid and deliverable plan that will transform the Covered Market, create new jobs in the city centre and secure the long-term future of the jewel in the crown of Oxford’s retail offer.”

Other areas being focused on include the public facilities and market operations which will be improved by redesigning the service yard, and devising lower energy ways to heat, cool and light the market.

The City Council will work with Covered Market traders, Oxford residents and other stakeholders during the course of the year to come up with further ideas and draft the masterplan during 2021.

“we see it as our duty to secure the market for future generations”

Alongside developing the masterplan, the City Council has also commissioned retail experts The Retail Group to create a new leasing strategy for the Covered Market.

The new strategy will also ensure that The Covered Market continues to be a home for local, independent businesses.

 The council is already investing £3.1 million secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and for internal refurbishment and decorations. It is also working with Tap Social to run a bar and events in the market later this year.

Cllr Mary Clarkson joined Amy and Tess Taylor from Tap Social in The Covered Market in April Picture by Ed Nix

“It has been an extremely difficult year for the Covered Market traders, but Oxford City Council is invested in the long-term success of the market. We are the custodian of a market that has been in continuous use since the late 18th century; we take that responsibility seriously, and we see it as our duty to secure the market for future generations,” Councillor Mary Clarkson adds.

The regeneration will embrace the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened in 1774 and is Grade II-listed.

Sarah Edwards

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