Outdoor market idea for old Exeter bus station site – as £8million new facility nears completion

The former Exeter bus station site could be used to host a temporary outdoor market.

Work on an £8million new transport hub in the city centre – featuring covered waiting and boarding areas and high-quality facilities – is nearing completion.

Now city council leader Phil Bialyk has revealed he has tasked officers to look into a new use for the old plot, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

The authority’s Strategic Scrutiny Committee was told on Thursday that an outdoor market would not duplicate any of the existing shops in the area.

Members heard it could involve different themes every day to encourage people – when lockdown is lifted – back into the city centre.

Councillor Bialyk said: “When we have all but completed the bus station and when it may be able to open, we will have a site that will be empty and belongs to us.

“There is a big apron on the bus station site and I would like that site…used as a possible temporary market.

“We have facilities there; electricity and water, and toilets as well, and it is our property, so we need to look at how we can use that site in a temporary way until we work up proposals for the remaining bus station site.”

Long-term regeneration proposals for the Paris Street plot could include the relocation of the Civic Centre into a new public sector hub, housing, a new office quarter, and food, drink and retail outlets.

A new square and civic space have also been mooted.

But while Cllr Bialyk said that discussions were being held, they were not at the stage to move forward.

He added that, in the meantime, the council has a site it is in control of, adding: “The day will come when we open the new bus station and we have a space that we need to use.”

Exeter City Council growth and commercialisation manager Victoria Hatfield said that the market would need to be run in conjunction with the community.

She added: “It has to be what people in the city want as there is no point having something that no-one wants to visit.

“There is an idea of different themes every day to encourage people, when safe to do so and restrictions lift, back into the city centre and to support businesses and spend within the city centre.

“It won’t be a replica or duplicate of existing shops in the city centre.

“The ideal scenario is to have enough space for something to have stalls under a temporary structure so they are kept dry, but the location has yet to be determined as we are working out where we have the space and how big we can go on this.”

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