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WATCH: How plans are progressing to revamp Jersey's markets

Significant improvements are coming to the Central Market, and the changes aim to make it a more vibrant and bustling space.

Over the coming years, the government is keen to spend £8 million on revamping both Jersey Markets. The intention was laid out last October.

Channel 103 has been finding out what progress has been made towards the ambition of creating a 'better shopping experience'.`

To keep the market vibrant, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft believes it must combine its existing status as a traditional town landmark with modern adaptations.

"It’s a very popular place. It's tremendously historic. It’s on the list of 100 best markets in the United Kingdom.

"It's so important to continue to look after it, improve it and work with the stall-holders to see how we can make an even better experience. It's not just about buying things, it's about the atmosphere. It's a place to meet people."

The Constable as been outlining the planned changes and what has been prioritised following various meetings in the past five months.

"There’s going to be more opportunity for people to eat out. They’ll be more entertainment, and we’re thinking about the possibility of using (the market) more in the evening as a place where people can hold a function.

"In terms of access, we still have a real issue around parking. I want to really work on getting a parking strategy out, making it cheaper so people feel they can come into town.

"If we look across to our sister island, their market has effectively been lost. It's become a bunch of offices and a supermarket - we don't ever want to get into that, so we need to use our market because we don't want to lose it."

 Artists impression of suggested al fresco dining areas on Halkett Street.

The Jersey Markets Revitalisation Project Update, published on 23 October 2023, set the vision for the markets.

They are to be positioned as 'vibrant and inclusive' – the 'social and commercial hub of the town' – 'as the centrepiece of the new and improved public realm.'

Any repairs will be in keeping with the history of the building.

The government is keen for the market to host a variety of art and performance-based cultural activities. The hosting of classes and events by traders are speculated to make a visit to the market more of an experience.

 The market has hosted the island's Lunar New Year celebrations.

As part of design plans, the government is considering an event space, a programme of Friday Lunchtime recitals and performances, and more communal tables and chairs.

Included in the plans is a new al fresco dining area. Halkett Place is to be converted for this purpose on a trial basis, as well as the area around the entrance from French Lane.

Although not included in the vision statements, there are recently rumoured hopes for a central cocktail bar as part of a later opening schedule.

Store owners have differing opinions on the plans, with some saying that moving with the times is essential, and others believing in preserving the traditional, vendor-side of the market.

The manager of Needle Treasures has seen the store become busier since the changes.

"The people coming in here are so varied, more and more we're seeing the youngsters coming through. There was a Valentine's thing and we haven't seen that before. As soon as people are saying that it's in the central market, we're seeing people come in."

But other traders are keen to keep the market as close to its original purpose as possible, with the opinion that there is no need for change.  One told us, "It's good as it is, it needs a new roof a new floor and decent toilets, and everybody's happy. There is no need to 'revitalise'."

Constable Crowcroft is sure that nothing needs to be changed that is working.

"So many stalls around us are tremendously successful and there's no need for them to change. There are others that are struggling to make a living, we need to talk to them about what they are offering.

"I don’t want to see anything change that is working. It's going to be a case of evolution not revolution."

Since the announcement of the project, the Central Market has undergone a rebrand: gaining a social media presence and new logo.

It has introduced a more regular trading schedule, scrapping the early closure on Thursdays, and introduced late-night dining on Fridays and Saturdays.

The History of the Market

The Central Market is an important landmark in the community history of St Helier. 

The current Victorian structure was built in 1881. This opened to acclaim on 9 September 1882 with its impressive cast-iron columns and glass atrium, and a 15-foot fountain as well as two elaborate gates from the previous building. At the time, there were 34 tenants selling local produce.

The Central Market remained open throughout the Occupation, despite food shortages, and the market bell has been rung every trading day since 1824. 

 

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