Open Market

The tented market, re-opened… just. Photo © komadori.It’s good to see Swindon’s tented market open for business again. It has some way to go though: only 22 of 32 available stalls have been taken, despite the three week delay in opening, and there are more stalls that haven’t been made available to traders yet.

With clothes stalls, a green grocer, a DIY stall and a coffee stall, amongst others, it’s a good start… but still rather empty.

Insecure marketing

Back in business soon?It’s nice to see that the tented market may soon be back in business. But given the state of the economy, it seems odd that the market’s new owners have chosen to increase rents by 60 to 100%. They say that rents need to go up to allow them to make a profit. Well, yes, but the previous operators of the tented market wouldn’t have stayed in business for as long as they did if they were making a loss so big that it could only be cured by a hike in rents as vast as this.

What would tenants get for these inflated prices? Insecurity, though that’s not how the new owners see it.

The six month lease is there to give security to us and the traders.

The risk of being evicted within months of opening a new business isn’t what many would describe as ‘security’. Flexibility: yes. The ability to cut ones losses if the new venture isn’t a success: yes. Security: most definitely not.

Back to the market drawing board… again

Another thing to happen during my unscheduled absence from the internet is that Swindon Borough Council planning committee has, at its latest meeting, yet again rejected proposals for replacing the tented market with an ugly slab pavilion of restaurants. Having previously commented at length on this proposal I’ve little more to say, apart from noting my satisfaction with the committee’s decision, and wondering yet again at how the planning officer manages, still, to find these plans so much more attractive than almost anyone else does.

Yet another plan for the Tented Market

How pretty!The developers Clarebrook and their interior designers architects Pennington Robson are back with revised plans to replace Swindon’s tented market with what they rather fancifully describe as a ‘pavilion’.

Half a pavilionNow, credit where credit is due, the revised plans are an improvement on their last ones. That’s not a great endorsement. Their last design was incredibly ugly. So ugly that the planning committee deferred decision on them. The appearance from Commercial Road in the new plans is improved. However, anyone approaching from Farnsby Street — which, as a result of the one-way system, many do — will see a building remarkable only for its drab ugliness.

The plans are open for comment until 3rd July.

Market half-sense

I’m delighted to read that, at last week’s meeting of Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee, the latest plans for the tented market were deferred for consideration in June, with the chair of the committee describing them as unacceptable and officers recommending refusal because their appearance from Commercial Road is so poor. It’s nice to see that they agree with me, for once.

The developers say they will appeal if the plans are rejected: they are still open for comment, if you wish to add your weight to the officers’ opinion.

Market monstrosity

You’d think that if a developer wanting to replace a landmark property, such as Swindon’s tented market, had their previous proposal rejected because it had too many restaurants in then, on their next attempt, they’d try something with less. You’d also think that if that same previous proposal was rejected because it

fails to achieve a high standard of urban design, is unsympathetic to the local context by reason of its appearance and would fail to improve the character of the Town Centre.

then, on their next attempt, they’d come back with a better, more impressive design.

Ugly proposal to replace the tented marketIt seems that the people at Clarebrook Limited don’t think that way. Their latest proposal has exactly the same balance of units as their last (three restaurants or cafes plus only one shop), and a design that is certainly striking, but in all the wrong ways. The previous design was bland. The new design is ugly. Very ugly. Anyone passing in Commercial Road would see a building that looks as though their architects got confused and stuck halves of two different buildings together. That they still call this a ‘pavilion’ shows an understanding of the English language that is as poor as their design. Messrs Pennington Robson describe themselves as ‘interior architects and designers’, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the exterior of their design is so abysmal.

And remember, when was the last time you saw an artist’s impression of a development that lived up to the artwork in real life? If it looks bad in the plans, it’ll look much, much worse in reality.