Oxford City Council have submitted a £2 million funding bid as part of a larger plan that would transform the Covered Market.
A successful bid, submitted to Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action, would unlock a multi-million-pound investment in Oxford’s treasured market.
Later this year, the council will work with traders, shoppers and stakeholders to develop potential proposals.
While a precise cost has not yet been announced, investment is expected to enter the millions. Proposals will consider improving the entrances and facade to the Covered Market, among other developments.
First opened in 1774, the market features more than 50 traders. The transformation aims to increase footfall and improve the trading environment for local independent businesses, as well as to encourage more local shoppers.
A Grade II-listed building, Oxford City Council already invests £3.1 million into the Covered Market to secure its long-term future.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “Oxford Covered Market has been in continuous use since the late 18th century. Oxford City Council is its custodian, and it’s our duty to secure the market for future generations.”
“Our aim with this project is to transform the market, create new jobs and increase footfall – and ensure the Covered Market remains the jewel in the crown of Oxford’s retail offer.”
The first proposals, known as a “masterplan”, will be complete by the end of 2020. The Council has been supported in the big by a variety of businesses, including the Covered Market Tenants’ Association and a number of University of Oxford colleges.
The wider vision is to create an Oxford Market Quarter of small, independent traders. If successful, it is hoped that the investment will support the development of a wider Market Quarter, working with other landlords in the area.
Debbie Dance, Director of Oxford Preservation Trust, said: “Securing this funding will act as leverage for other support, acting as a catalyst to allow a new vibrant centre for the city, allowing partnership opportunities to develop spreading much needed investment into the surrounding streets.”
“Together this will allow the creation of an exciting and revitalised place for all the residents of the city, and across all walks of its life, creating a sense of place and belonging for more diverse, different and exciting new audiences, improving the health and well being for all.”