Orpington Market launch to coincide with Food Festival
Orpington is getting a new market this Autumn. Owners Rockspring and partners have a vision to transform the market, which will see a fundamental change in the way it looks, feels and is operated on both market and non-market days.
Started in 1990, the market in its heyday attracted close to 100 stalls but has since fallen on harder times, a state of affairs mirrored by many markets across the country. The needs of Orpington’s residents, however, are changing and with new families moving into the area, the market will focus as a community hub with the potential to enhance the local economy by contributing towards a diverse independent retail offer.
The Walnuts Shopping Centre where the new look market is located has already seen a substantial investment into the town, with the opening of an Odeon Cinema and Premier Inn in the last 18 months. 345,000 visitors have already enjoyed a show at the cinema and overall footfall is up 20% since the investment, with The Walnuts Car Park seeing an increase of 40% in occupancy levels.
Improvements to the Market Square are already underway, following a successful bid by Bromley Council to the GLA High Street Fund. Work started in Summer 2016 with large scale feature signage installed into the public library and a bespoke mural crafted into the leisure centre façade. The improvements are part of the Borough Council’s initiative to improve Orpington’s town centre spaces and enhance the pedestrian experience.
In addition to the public realm improvements on the market square that includes new seating, lighting, tree planting and replacing the 1970’s fire escape leading down from the Leisure Centre, the area will provide the features that make successful town centre spaces. These will include a place where people can meet, eat, shop and relax and where our local businesses can test out ideas as well as having strong, well-known traders offering high quality produce that will retain current customers and attract new ones.
Over the Summer, owners Rockspring are developing a new brand for Orpington Market and investing in new stalls, covers and utilities to provide a modern, fit for purpose market that will work for traders and shoppers alike. Visitors will be greeted by a Market that looks and feels inviting. Stalls will be realigned around a street food area and the new public realm seating to encourage browsing whether visitors are stopping awhile, or just passing through. The introduction of free Wi-Fi will allow traders to easily introduce cashless payments, and visitors to the market will be able to virtually browse events and offers, sign in to their social media or book a cinema ticket.
The centrepiece to the market is a refurbished Citroen HY Van immaculately fitted out to operate as a food truck. The popularity of these vintage vehicles has risen significantly on markets across the country in recent years as they offer a unique point of sale. A vintage vehicle has the capacity to create attention and perception for your business and build an audience and the market operators are seeking expressions of interest from businesses that might like to include such an iconic vehicle into a street food offer.
To coincide with the launch, market organisers are teaming up with the Business Improvement District, Orpington 1st, to introduce an inaugural Food Festival to the town in early September. It is hoped that many of the artisans and food producers brought in for the event will be tempted to stay on and make Orpington Market their new trading base. To incentivise artisan producers, as well as other makers and creators not usually found on the High Street, the market’s owners are investing in equipment including cold and dry storage, washing facilities and are working with the council to provide parking for vans to keep them off the Market Square during trading hours.
There will also be an area of the market dedicated to new businesses and those applying will be asked to provide a Business Plan to show the viability of their idea. Successful applicants will be entitled to reduced pitch fees in the first six months of trading and will be able to get business advice to guide them through their first year. As with other traders on the new market, a gazebo will be provided as part of the pitch fee, all branded in the markets new livery.
A website goes live at the end of June and anyone interested in trading at either the market or the Food Festival should fill out the online application form. You will be contacted soon after by a member of the market team and invited for an interview over the Summer.