Newmarket’s market is set to move back on to the town’s High Street.
More than 40 years after the market – one of the oldest in the country dating back to the 13th century – was last seen in the town’s main street, plans have been unveiled which will see stalls return there by April next year.
The proposed new location will be between the clock tower and The Rutland Arms and the traders will have to follow a unified layout format, using three-metre square gazebos provided by Forest Heath District Council facing towards the shops.
It is understood there will be space for 15 stalls – currently there are about seven stallholders on a Tuesday and 10 on Saturdays.
Although traders have long called for the market to return to its original location, the news that it will, has not been welcomed by all.
Len Rix, known as The Eggman, who has had a stall for 50 years and traded on the High Street until the market moved to the current market square in the early 1970s, said : “This move is very much on the council’s terms. Some of the existing traders won’t be able to fit their stalls in, the rents will go up and we will have to set up and pack up at specific times. At the moment if there is no trade we can go home .
“All I want to see is for the market to thrive and it will only do that if it can expand. I can’t see we will have the space to do that. I think the council just wants to tuck us away and hope we die.”
But Cllr David Bowman, the council’s cabinet member for operations, said it was trying to reverse the market’s decline and the High Street move had been agreed after three years of talks with traders and their industry association .
He agreed the High Street was a ‘very different environment’ and would require a new format and new operating practices.
“We propose to run a six month pilot before reviewing the change with all our partners,” he said.
Cllr Lance Stanbury, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Planning and Growth added: “We believe a thriving market benefits the town. This move will also help ease the pressure on car parking capacity by freeing up 40 spaces.”