‘We’re fighting back’ – Mayor hails opening of Doncaster’s £7 million revamped Wool Market
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said the new £7 million market hall was the borough’s way of ‘fighting back’ against a national decline of town centres.
Hundreds of people turned out for a first glimpse at ‘soft launch’ to sample the craft ale, street food stalls and other shops.
Mayor Jones was on hand to officially open the revamped Wool Market on Market Place with a obligatory ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Wool Market refurbishment is part of the near £7 million first phase of the Enterprise Marketplace scheme. which has benefited from £3.2 million of Local Growth Fund funding from the Sheffield City Region. The scheme was project managed by Doncaster Council, the main contractor was Willmott Dixon and the architect was Bond Bryan Architects.
The revamped market is now home to a mix of retail, eating and drinking options with capacity to host more events.
Extended opening hours is also aimed at bringing more people to the market and the town centre in general.
The opening comes on the back of a decision to hand over the running of Doncaster and Mexborough markets to Essex-based firm Markets Asset Management which has prompted a negative reaction from a number of councillors and some traders.
Many people who visited the market were impressed but others had mixed feelings.
Stacey Croot, aged 42 from Rossington, said she was really impressed with the new look.
“I think this is just what Doncaster needs. I think it will bring more people in with some money to spend and you could see people who attend the races coming here for some food and drink,” she said.
“There isn’t really anything like this in the town centre – it's fantastic.
“I know Bawtry gets a lot of trade on race days and it could bring some of it back to the town centre. I think it’s brilliant.
John Turner, 68, had travelled in from Thorne to sample the new market.
Speaking over a pint of real ale from one of the new bars, he said: “I think it’s good – I don’t think it will be popular with everyone because it's more of a food hall than a market. But saying that there’s nothing like this in Doncaster really.
“Town centres and markets are having problems up and down the country and they need to come up with ideas like this to survive.”
Maureen Barley, 76, from Bessacarr said: “I’ve not been in long, but from my first impressions it’s fantastic. It’s different but I’m sure it will bring more people into the town.
“I just hope it takes off because there’s always a worry with these things failing but I’m sure it will be a success.”
Margaret Christie, 71 and Edith Ward, 72, came from Mexborough to visit the new market.
Ms Christie said: “It’s more for the young people and not really for us but I appreciate what they’re trying to do. Regeneration is always welcome.
The market was not to everyone’s taste. One elderly woman who didn’t wish to be named said she wouldn’t be going in again but added her ‘grandchildren will like it’.
Another gentleman said there ‘wasn’t enough shops’ but admitted the market should ‘bring a new audience’ to that part of town.
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said: “It’s vibrant and it’s a new offering for the people of Doncaster – it shows out first stage in our regeneration.
“We know town centres have suffered but this is actually Doncaster fighting back getting families in here, late night openings.
“We’re showing if you give a different offering, bringing back people living in the town as well along with the town centre plan that we actually implement we can grow our economy.
“More importantly, it’s a place where people can be proud to come from and to live in.”