The scheme will transform the weekday car-park into a sunday market with space for nearly 300 stalls (indoor and out) and 200 cars, just half a mile north of Tithebarn street, and animate what is – at least at weekends – a brownfield wasteland, just a stroll from the apartments of the waterfront.
The project’s a collaboration between city developers Nextdom (who are currently at work re-animating Renshaw Street, transforming Grand Central’s on-street units into a hub of coffee shops and retail spaces – with student accommodation above) and hundreds of traders from Greatie and the wider northwest market community.
It’s hard to imagine a better site (it is, after all, within shouting distance of the original Stanely Dock location), and the plans look robust and exciting. They’re online here.
But there is growing concern that the Council, minded not to let go of its JV monopoly with Geraud, may cite an ancient charter in a bid to block the plans, and keep its municipal mittens in a stranglehold that’s kept our markets’ Renaissance very much on hold these past ten years.
Because this isn’t about a market. This is a litmus test. This is a chance for the city to show that, despite evidence to the contrary, Joe Anderson and Malcolm Kennedy really are committed to throwing private enterprise and competition into the mix: and to admit that maybe, just maybe, market traders know how best to run a market. You know, like they do in other cities.
But first some history…
When the city was granted Royal Borough status in 1207, exclusive market rights were thrown in as part of the deal – with the Corporation of Liverpool buying up the disparate licences and ancient rights to become sole market authority in 1773.
But guess what? The rest of the world’s in the 21st century. New rules apply. We were in Leeds’ Trinity market yesterday – a diverse mix of street food vendors, pop-up market stalls and emerging high street food and drink brands, rotated on a monthly basis. It’s brilliant, it’s rammed on Sundays. And it’s not run by Geraud (whose Edge Lane Sunday Market is a joke. Have you seen their busy Facebook page?)
So here’s the thing: if the Council does intend to wield an 800 year old Charter to quash this plan, we’d respectfully remind them of of six Liverpool Market Byelaws that – as far as we can tell – they choose not to enforce:
1) No person shall bring into any market any pram, bicycle or cycle
2) No person shall throw or wilfully drop any orange peel or vegetables
3) No person shall wash or clean their vegetables after 10am
4) No person shall curse or use offensive language in the markets
5) No person shall elevate themselves above the floor of the market
6) No person shall bring any animal entrails into the market
These are all genuine, still-on-the-statute-books, enforceable city byelaws. And they’re all irrelevant. Time’s moved on. So it would be telling, wouldn’t it, if they elect to selectively dust down only the statues that suit them?
Let’s not wheel out ancient history – let’s look to the future.
Last week, Mayor Anderson was talking big numbers – with a projected £1.5 billion worth of developments slated for Lime Street and Kings Dock.
“Crucially (these plans) will bring thousands of jobs into the city which will ensure we have a sustainable future. I promised our best days are ahead of us, and these key projects are evidence of some of the things we have planned for the future,” he said.
And rightly so. The plans are bold and ambitious.
Well here’s an opportunity that’s dropped right into the city’s lap. And it’s by a company with form. Nextdom Ltd. was founded in 1999 to facilitate regeneration of deprived parts of Liverpool in conjunction with Liverpool City Council & Northwest Regional Development Agency. It was initially involved in the £4 Million regeneration project in Toxteth which they still manage – overseeing a 45 unit business park which provides jobs for in excess of 120 people.
“We’ve acted on an approach from many Liverpool market traders to develop a much needed Liverpool Sunday Market,” they tell us. “Since the closure of the ‘Heritage Market’ Liverpool has lacked a quality Sunday Market. We created this proposal to provide a more robust and diverse shopping experience back to Liverpool.”
For their part, the Liverpool Market Traders Association are talking up the potential of 200+ new jobs and a crucial first step into the retail world for the city’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
“We believe that a market run by the traders for the traders will significantly benefit the people of Liverpool and its economy,” says their spokesperson Billy Darwin.
“After the uncertainty surrounding the relocation of the Great Homer Street location, this will be a much-needed boost for Liverpool, and its location is ideal. This market will create tremendous employment prospects and would become a real tourist attraction, generating millions of pounds for the city’s economy.”
It is possible for the council and its markets Joint Venture partner Geraud, to grant a licence for a market – if they do what’s right for the city, that’s what they’ll do. And if Planning know what’s right for north Liverpool’s regeneration, they’ll green light this project.
Nextdom’s property and development manager, Michael Sharkey, says the project represents an investment of around £500,000.
That’s real money – not wish list, crystal ball-gazing. And it’s real jobs.
So, what do you think? Will this be a new chapter in our market’s history?
We really hope so.