23 December 2004
The New Market Prototype stall on show.
The photograph above shows what has been the view of Norwich Market for nearly half a century, a view that still looks good even today.
But underneath the canvas roofs things have deteriorated over the years. Once upon a time there was a Market Supervisor to keep the area up to scratch, but for several years the market has been left to its own devices and allowed to deteriorate to an extent that would never pass the current health and safety laws.
After wasting a lot of time (and money) on a competition to design a new market place which produced some wild and exotic ideas, the public finally stood up to be counted and insisted that the market remain much as it is today.
A top architect was commissioned to design the new market and eventually some artists impressions of the new design were produced. Picture above (Copyright LSI Architects)
On a cold December day, the prototype of the new stalls was put on display. And the difference between artists impression and reality became obvious....
The ramp around the prototype is to simulate the slopes of the Market Place. This will be the first time that the stalls are actually upright and not following the slopes of the area. So the view across the roofs will now have a distinct staircase look.
As can be seen from the photographs, the uprights are much larger than in the artists impression - at the ends are what look like cupboards (these are for access to the electric and other services). There is also the problem of the stepped floor levels for any trader having a double unit.
The Aisle roofs will only be lowered in the case of rain. There was no indication of any roofing of the aisles going the other way.
Another problem that hasn't been thought about is access for wheelchair users. Many of today's stalls are 'walk-into'. With the proposed design access for wheelchair users will mean entrances having to provide ramps.
Another old area to be ruined.
Orford Hill has long been a pleasant cobbled area with trees and seating. Originally it was called Hog Hill because of the market that was held here.
But now the Council intend to mess it all up. According to the Council magazine 'Citizen':
The cobbled are on Orford Hill will also be changed into a new terraced seating area. The cobbles, which are difficult to cross, especially for people with mobility problems, will go and more seats, bins and cycle parking will be brought in.
Councillor Judith Lubbock, said, "The area round Orford Hill in particular has been crying out for something better for many years. It will create a wonderful space for people to take their lunch or just sit and take a break".
Take another look at the photograph above. Haven't we already got a "wonderful space for people to take their lunch or just sit and take a break". All it needs are the cobbles to replaced by bricks. I don't see how cycle racks and terracing will help the people with mobility problems - it will just create more hazzards.
People with mobility problems have trouble with steps. But then, two other areas of the city centre have already been messed up with steps where there used to none - The Haymarket and Millennium Plain - why should the Council stop now?
Several people have commented on the strange new pavement layouts in the city centre, especially at the road junctions. Answer: Think tramlines.