Have your say on ‘masterplan’ for future of Oxford’s Covered Market 

Published: Thursday, 8th September 2022

Oxford City Council is seeking views from local people on a proposed ‘masterplan’ to update Oxford’s historic Covered Market for the 21st Century. 

A period of public consultation is open from 10 September until 19 October 2022.

Feedback will be used by the Council to refine the draft masterplan, which sets out proposals for a multi-million pound regeneration of the market to secure its long-term future. 

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. 

The draft masterplan has been informed by public workshops held in 2021. Members of the public said they wanted to see a lively, diverse market with more places to sit and socialise, making it a thriving part of the city centre throughout the day and into the evening​.

There has also been significant engagement in 2021 and 2022 with Covered Market Traders and other city centre stakeholders. Their input has informed the latest proposals and the Council continues to engage on a one-to-one basis with the Traders most affected by the proposals. 

Public consultation in September and October is a critical part of informing the detailed masterplan and business case for future investment the Council might make, as it seeks to support the Covered Market’s long-term sustainable future.

Any decision on funding for the masterplan would need to be made by Oxford City Council’s Cabinet and Council following the consultation, which will also look at construction costs, future income, and delivery options. The proposals would also be subject to a number of permissions, including planning and listed building consent.

The creation of new spaces would make the Covered Market more accessible to more people and improve connections with surrounding streets. 

There are three main suggested improvements in the masterplan: 

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

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

It would rely on creating a period in the day when vehicles (apart from emergency services) would not be able to access this space. 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, which achieves the vision while managing day-to-day business operations. 

2. New communal space opening onto Market Street 

The Market would have a new,  welcoming and more visible entrance and flexible event space or ‘public square’, opening out onto an improved Market Street. With generous amounts of seating it would be much easier for visitors to spend more time in the Covered Market. Sympathetic architectural changes are proposed to reveal and protect the building’s heritage and splendour for future generations of shoppers and traders.​ 

3. Improved entrances on High Street and Cornmarket Street  

Improved entrances would encourage more visitors to walk through from popular shopping areas nearby. The City Council is working with the adjacent landowners who own the entrance ways into the Market, to understand whether it will be possible to undertake improvements to all entrances. 

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

Separately, the City Council is already investing £3.1m in the Covered Market. This investment includes £1.8m on currently on-going work to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and £1.3m for internal refurbishment and decorations. 

The Council has also recently held a consultation on a potential trial of extended opening hours at Oxford’s Covered Market. Responses to the extended opening hours’ consultation and the learnings from any implementation of longer opening hours will also feed into the ‘masterplan’. 

The Council has set a target to delivering the regeneration project of 2023-2026.

Councillor Imogen Thomas, cabinet member responsible for City Centre Action Plan delivery at Oxford City Council, said: 

“With one foot in the past and an eye on the future, the masterplan aims to set out the biggest improvement in the Covered Market for a long time, both managing positive change in the Market, while protecting its unique historic status in the city. 

“We aim to draw more people to the area and make it easier for them to spend more time there, which in turn supports existing traders and encourages new businesses to join the Covered Market. We have been engaging with traders and other stakeholders already and now want to hear the views of local people. 

“Our proposals aim to support the Market's successful long-term future and would work to cement its place as one of Oxford’s ‘must-see’ destinations.” 

From 10 September until 19 October 2022, you can take part in the online consultation, by visiting: 


There are also in-person consultation events at the Covered Market on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 27 September 11am-3pm
  • Thursday 29 September 11am-3pm
  • Tuesday 11 October 11am-3pm
  • Thursday 13 October 11am-3pm

In addition, a Zoom presentation and discussion will take place on: 

  • Wednesday 12 October 5.30pm – 7pm

For more information, please visit the consultation web page.