Oxford City Council is seeking views from local people about a trial of later opening hours at Oxford’s Covered Market.
The feedback will be used by the Council to develop plans to support market traders to extend their opening hours and create a unique destination in the city for shopping and socialising in the evening.
Visitors will be able to shop and enjoy locally sourced and produced food and drink and live music and arts events in an entertaining and unusual setting.
The consultation is open from now until Tuesday 23 August and views can be given online, and in person, by dropping by the Market Office by the Golden Cross entrance on Thursday 11 August and Saturday 13 August.
Longer opening hours is a part of the Covered Market’s leasing strategy, approved by Cabinet in June 2021, which sets out how the Market can evolve in order to prosper in a changing city centre economy.
Nationally, shopping is changing and consumers want a more varied experience when they make physical trips into towns and cities.
Markets are also evolving and offering a wider range of attractions to persuade people to shop ‘in-person’ rather than online.
The Council is working with existing and future traders to bring Oxford’s historic Covered Market up-to-date.
Trialling a new bar in the centre of the Market gives existing traders the opportunity to increase trading hours and to work with other traders to create a unique experience for visitors.
It is hoped this this will attract new visitors to the market, particularly local people who may not have visited the market in recent years.
Lessons from the experience of extended opening hours will feed into the ‘master plan’ the Council has been developing to set out proposals for a multi-million pound regeneration of the market to secure its long-term future.
The regeneration will respect the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened in 1774 and is Grade II-listed.
There will be a further public consultation in the Autumn on the Covered Market master plan.
Separately, the City Council is already investing £3.1m in the Covered Market. This investment includes £1.8m to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and £1.3m for internal refurbishment and decorations.
The operating and security approach to the Market is also being adapted. CCTV has already been installed, with further details being worked through with traders and other stakeholders such as Thames Valley Police.
Councillor Imogen Thomas, cabinet member responsible for City Centre Action Plan delivery at Oxford City Council, said:
“The Council is working to ensure the historic Covered Market thrives well into the future, and provides the variety of options for entertainment, socialising and shopping that customers want to see. We’re keen to hear how local people and visitors to the city would like extended opening hours to happen.
“This could be the first time in its long history the Covered Market will play a part in Oxford’s night time economy, potentially providing a meeting place for people going to the theatre or other social events. It would also give people a chance to visit and shop after work hours”.
To take part in the online consultation, please visit our Consultation pages.