Work has begun on a new masterplan for Oxford’s Covered Market, one of the city’s key tourist attractions.

Using Gort Scott Architects and Transition by Design, Oxford City Council plans to develop the plan throughout 2021. Work will involve consulting traders, residents and other stakeholders. It was due to start last year but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The masterplan is intended to:

  • Make the market more visible and attractive from the street, such as by improving entrances
  • Encourage people to spend more time there
  • Improve public facilities and the operation of the market – and devise lower energy ways to heat, cool and light it

A business case for regeneration will then be drawn up which will look at funding options. Once it is approved, work on a planning application and listed building consent will begin in 2022.

The council says it will maintain the character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened in 1774 and is Grade II-listed. 

Cllr Mary Clarkson, cabinet member for city centre, Covered Market and culture, said: “The aim of the masterplan and leasing strategy is to come out of the coronavirus pandemic with a solid and deliverable plan ready to proceed 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.

“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.”

The Retail Group has already been working to develop a new leasing strategy to ensure the Covered Market continues to house independent operators and will report to the council in April. A total of £3.1 million was approved in 2018 for structural improvements and roof repairs.

See also: UK Property Forums consultant Hugh Blaza offers his personal thoughts on the upgrade.

Image: © Jorge Royan /

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