Artist impression of what the Covered Market redevelopment could look like. The image shows a large internal seating area, with new roof windows lighting the space.

Overview

Oxford City Council is working on a £6.87m redevelopment of Oxford's historic Covered Market.

The project will see the entrances in High Street and Market Street transformed, larger seating areas inside the market, and a new outdoor seating area in a more pedestrian-friendly Market Street.

The aim is to encourage visitors to spend more time in the Covered Market to help safeguard the market's future, strengthen the market as a destination and attract a wider audience.

The regeneration will respect the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened in 1774.

The main project will see five key improvements:

  • New communal space: A large, welcoming seating area will be created as people enter from Market Street, which will function as a public square during the day and a flexible event space at other times
  • Improved entrances: Refurbishment of market entrances from High Street and Cornmarket Street, including better lighting, signage and accessibility
  • Market Street management strategy: Part-pedestrianisation of Market Street to create a pedestrian-friendly space, including new outdoor seating, market stalls and planters. The public toilets are also proposed to be modernised and relocated
  • Service yard reorganisation: Rationalisation of service yard, including new trader storage and facilities, and electric vehicle and electric cargo bike charging points
  • Key supporting works: Essential building maintenance, new flooring, redecorating and improved lighting throughout the market

Separately, the City Council is investing £3.1m to upgrade the Covered Market, including £1.8m to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years and £1.3m for internal refurbishment and decorations.

For more information visit The Covered Market, Oxford website.

Temporary trial of changes to Market Street

In July 2023, the City Council commissioned Urban Movement, an award-winning public realm and transport design practice, to bring forward a pilot project to trial the part-pedestrianisation of Market Street.

The trial, which has a target for implementation on site in spring 2024, will create space for outdoor seating, market stalls and planters in a temporary pedestrian-friendly space in Market Street.

The part-pedestrianisation will run ahead of the main Covered Market redevelopment, providing the opportunity to trial changes to Market Street that will inform a larger and/or more long-lasting pedestrianisation at a later date.

Location

View location of The Covered Market Oxford in Google Maps.

Sustainability

One of six main objectives of the project is to make the Market a model for sustainability and support Oxford's Zero Emission Zone for current and future traders by:

  • Facilitating low- and zero-emission movement to and from the market
  • Minimising energy consumption and support passive strategies for heating, cooling and energy use
  • Low-carbon retrofitting
  • Supporting a circular economy and sustainable Market ecosystem
  • Introducing more planting and nature

The next design stage will test out how viable these objectives are for implementation.

Project timeline

In 2021, Oxford City Council commissioned market experts Gort Scott Architects to work with traders, residents and other stakeholders to create a masterplan for the Covered Market.

Gort Scott Architects led a multi-disciplinary team comprising Marcus Beale Architects (Heritage), Max Fordham (Environmental engineers), engineers HRW (Structural engineers), Stockdale (Quantity Surveyors), Caneparo (Transport consultants) and Transition by Design (Local engagement experts).

The masterplan took two years to develop and was approved by the City Council, alongside a £6.87m package to make it happen, in February 2023.

In July 2023, the City Council commissioned Urban Movement to bring forward a pilot project to trial the part-pedestrianisation of Market Street. The trial, which will run ahead of the main Covered Market redevelopment, has a target for implementation on site in spring 2024.

Have your say

Market experts Gort Scott Architects and its multi-disciplinary team carried out extensive engagement with market traders, Oxford residents and other stakeholders between 2021 and 2022, including a period of public consultation in autumn 2022, to help create a masterplan for the Covered Market redevelopment.

More engagement and consultation is planned for the next design phases, so watch this space.

Artist impression of what Market Street could look like following the redevelopment. The image shows a part-pedestrianised street featuring outdoor seating, stalls and new trees