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Plans for 'high-quality' market place enhancement

7 December 2016

Plans are being drawn-up to improve Kendal’s historic Market Place.

We are leading on a project to create a high-quality, versatile space suitable for hosting a wide range of community-focused events and markets.

The £200,000 initiative is being supported by a project board including us, Kendal Futures, Kendal Civic Society, Kendal Town Council, Kendal Business Improvement District, Cumbria County Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

A brief has been issued inviting public realm design specialists to bid for the work.

The design brief says any enhancement scheme should be looking to make Market Place ‘safe, welcoming and atmospheric, encouraging a vibrant café culture, evening economy, and a quality retail environment attractive to business, residents and visitors.’

Once appointed, the designers will start a public consultation in the new year to invite comments and suggestions before a final scheme is agreed.

Our economy portfolio holder Councillor Graham Vincent said: “The main aim is to create a clutter-free and more accessible space that respects the history and heritage of Market Place.

“We are looking for a design that will be more attractive for shoppers and visitors, and that can be better used for markets and events to support the local economy.

“Through the project board we have already been listening to the views of the business community and partners like the civic society and town council to come up with the design brief and the next stage will be to invite the views of residents before anything is finalised.’’

Patricia Hovey of Kendal Civic Society added: “I am very impressed with the thought that has gone in to this so far.

“We don’t want to lose the heritage of this area and we need to look after it as much as possible. This is a very nice scheme, there are some lovely ideas coming forward and we are grateful to be involved.’’

The results of a pedestrian survey conducted in 2014 showed a strong desire among people questioned for Market Place to be de-cluttered to make it easier to get around, with improved seating and lighting, but retained as a public open space for festivals and events.

A £30,000 project to replace the old street lights in Market Place has already been approved and will be carried out early in the new year by Cumbria County Council.

This will involve removing the existing lights running along the edge of Market Place and Branthwaite Brow and replacing them with two new, centrally located lamp-posts in Market Place, each with four heritage-style lights, and a matching single light lamp-post and a wall-mounted light on Branthwaite Brow, that will provide far better lighting for the area than the old lights they will replace.

Two old trees at the Highgate end of Market Place will also need to be removed.

As part of the overall improvements to the Market Place, the two existing silver birch trees were looked at to see if they could be incorporated in to the new design scheme.

But arboricultural investigations have shown they are reaching the end of their natural life span because they are contained within a restrictive walling and that the roots of the trees have started to damage the surrounding wall structure and paving.

A report also states the immediate area around the trees is frequently covered in bird droppings, which is unsightly and unhygienic, particularly for market stall traders and passing pedestrians.

As a result it is being recommended the two trees are removed and a replacement tree is included in the new design scheme, one that is more suited to the space and is in an underground planted pit, to ensure it has sufficient rooting volume but does not overgrow.

The tree specimen will be carefully selected so that it is of a type that will absorb more pollution than the current silver birches, which will also serve to help improve air quality in the town centre.

Kendal was granted its market charter in 1189 by Richard I and the Saturday market established by that charter still remains to this day, along with a regular Wednesday street market.

The war memorial at the Highgate end of Market Place was unveiled in 1921. The war memorial and its location will be unaffected by the enhancement work project in Market Place.