Many of the eight million tourists that visit Brighton each year won’t venture much further than the beaches and buzzing nightlife the city is famous for. But beyond the iconic pier and Royal Pavilion, some parts of town have suffered from a severe lack of attention over recent years. One such area is London Road in the North of the city. Once a thriving retail centre, it has been home to an open market since the 1880s, and during the 1960s and 1970s was one of Brighton’s most popular shopping destinations. But as consumers started to choose convenience and price over locally produced goods, market traders lost out to the big supermarkets and the area fell into a state of decline.
“Our city is full of enterprising businesses and new ideas. The market will be a place where these can take root and thrive.”
Victoria Williams, director, Brighton Open Market CIC
But in 2006, the council and the Open Market Traders Association produced a business case for a new market to revitalise the once bustling area. Three elements combined to make the plans viable – the market itself, social housing and a creative working space from Triodos Bank customers Ethical Property. “The market isn’t just about creating a beautiful, thriving, purpose-built space to supply fresh, healthy and local produce to the local community,” says Victoria Williams, director of Brighton Open Market CIC. “It’s also about supporting the local economy by bringing together Brighton’s independent traders and sustainable food businesses to revitalise the London Road area of the city.”
A bright future
A £20million regeneration project has seen the demolition of the old market and a vibrant new community and craft hub emerging in its place. The market’s 45 permanent stalls are now home to an eclectic mix of local independent traders selling a diverse range of goods including organic food, fashion, crafts and antiques, with a focus on local producers and ethical products. Ethical Property’s 12 workshops provide flexible and affordable space for creative individuals, co-operatives and social enterprises, and 87 affordable homes have been developed by Hyde Housing Association. Victoria Williams concludes, “Our city is full of enterprising businesses and new ideas. The market will be a place where these can take root and thrive.”
Brighton Open Market has been at the heart of city life since the 1800s. Starting as a handful of barrow boys selling fruit and vegetables on Oxford Street, by the 1960s, it had moved to London Road and was home to more than 40 stalls. Now, thanks to a £1million loan from Triodos Bank, the market has been rebuilt with space for 45 permanent stalls and is now a thriving collection of independent traders offering a huge array of locally produced food and drink as well as exhibition space for arts and crafts, street performance and entertainment.
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