We asked, you said, we did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

Public consultation ran from 10 September until 23 October 2022, a period of just over six weeks.

We asked residents for their views on a proposed ‘masterplan’ to update Oxford’s historic Covered Market for the 21st Century. This includes a number of proposed new measures, including a new ‘public square’ in the heart of the market and a new ‘pedestrian-friendly’ space on Market Street. 

There is a full analysis of its conclusion available on request.

You said

The in-person and virtual consultation was seeking to gather the widest possible public response.

  • We received 476 responses to our online consultation survey.
  • More than 300 people spoke to officers at one of the public drop-in sessions or at the online event.
  • More than 50 stakeholders, including Covered Market Traders, attended group or individual sessions or filled out the consultation.
  • Historic England, Oxford Preservation Trust, Oxford Civic Society, Cyclox, Brasenose College (on behalf of the retail-owning colleges including All Souls, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Jesus, Lincoln, Oriel and Trinity) shared their views separately over email.
  • Several councillors responded.

There was clear support for the masterplan proposals – both at an individual level and when taken together as a holistic plan:

  • 66% of respondents strongly agree or agree that the Covered Market needs all these proposals as part of a single plan (versus 15% who strongly disagree or disagree).
  • The element of the proposals which had the most support was the proposed change to Market Street: 81% of respondents strongly agree or agree that a more pedestrian-friendly area on Market Street will encourage more visitors to the Covered Market.
  • There was majority agreement that our proposals deliver against all six of the project ambitions, apart from for sustainability.
  • The people responding to the public consultation were primarily regular customers and visitors, and they come for a variety of reasons, although not many from the less engaged or under-represented groups responded.

The implications of the public consultation results:

  • The officer recommendation to take the masterplan proposals to the next stage of work is supported by the public.
  • The next stage of work (detailed design and onwards) should review the detailed comments from the consultation portal and stakeholders, so that more attention can be focused in relevant areas, including: the right mix of activities on Market Street and the communal area; more explanation of the value of improving entrances, toilets and cycle storage; more work on improving the environmental sustainability implications of the proposals.
  • The next stage of work, which would include at least one period of statutory public consultation, should endeavour to incorporate the views of a more diverse range of people.

We did

Oxford City Council has approved a £6.87m package to revitalise Oxford’s historic Covered Market.

The funding package was agreed by Cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday 8 February.

The project will see the entrances in High Street and Market Street transformed, larger seating areas inside, and a new dwell space outside in a new pedestrian-friendly Market Street.

The regeneration will respect the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened fully in 1774, while securing the long-term future of the Grade II-listed prized Council asset.

The set of proposals has come together into a “Masterplan”, prepared over a period of two years, involving extensive consultation with market traders, residents and other stakeholders.

There are three main improvements in the Masterplan: 

1. A ‘pedestrian-friendly’ space on Market Street

This will be immediately outside the market entrances in Market Street, with the introduction of planters, seating and outdoor stalls. The public toilets are proposed to be modernised and relocated. The ‘back entrance’ to the Market will therefore be transformed into an attractive, green and accessible space to relax in the city centre. 

The service yard, or loading bay for traders, will stay in its existing location, so the proposal will rely on creating a period in the day when vehicles (apart from emergency services) will not be able to access some of Market Street.

The City Council is working with traders and other Market Street stakeholders, as well as the County Council, in order to establish a practical plan that will both accommodate traders’ day-to-day business needs, while enabling the new communal space to operate

2. New communal space opening onto Market Street 

The Market will have a new and much more visible opening from an improved Market Street into a large, welcoming seating area, which will function as a public square during the day and a flexible event space at different times. This will bring more light into the Market and improve the entrance space.

With generous amounts of seating, it will be much easier for visitors to spend more time in the Covered Market. Sympathetic architectural changes, including the addition of glazing, are proposed to reveal and protect the building’s heritage and splendour for future generations of shoppers and traders.​ 

Two existing units in the least historically significant part of the Market will need to be removed in order for this public square to be created, so the City Council is working with the affected businesses in order to review the opportunities to relocate within the Market.

3. Improved entrances on High Street and Cornmarket Street  

Lighter entrances, with better signage and a new floor surface will encourage more visitors to walk through from popular shopping areas nearby. The City Council is seeking ways to improve the entrances which will benefit the Market and the High Street more generally, and is working with the adjacent landowners to action this where appropriate.

Other proposals in the Masterplan include implementing essential improvements to the services of the Market (such as drainage) at the same time as the more visible transformations already summarised. This way, the Market will be able to evolve to meet customer’s needs long into the future.

We asked

We asked for views on plans for a new pedestrian and cycle footbridge to create a new link to enhance the wider walking and cycling network; improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and reinforcing legibility.

The bridge was proposed to be located at Grandpont Nature Park (south side) and Oxpens Meadow (north side) connecting from Osney Mead to the west to Oxford City Centre and the Oxford Train Station and beyond to the wider walking and cycling networks.

You said

290 responses were collected from the online consultation. 42% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the need for a pedestrian and cycle footbridge in this location. 55% of respondents would be likely to use a pedestrian and cycle footbridge in this location.

We did

The information from the consultation was taken on board by the design team and used to help shape the next design phase.  Once this is undertaken we will then submit a planning application, targeted for late May 2023. Further consultation will take place as part of the planning process.

We asked

In July and August 2022, the Council held a consultation on a trial of extended opening hours at Oxford’s Covered Market.

You said

The majority of respondents favour later opening hours.

  • 70% of members of the public who took part in this consultation said they would visit more often if later opening hours also involved more events and opportunities to eat and drink as well as shop
  • Eating in (86%) and having a drink (73%) were cited as the most popular reason to visit
  • Most popular activities suggested by the public were Trader-led events (e.g., tastings, ‘meet the trader’ talks) and music, both at 74% of those surveyed, followed by comedy (52%) and film screenings (47%)

We did

Responses to the extended opening hours’ consultation and the learnings from the implementation of longer opening hours will feed into the implementation of the Masterplan proposals.