New Indoor Market opportunity in Diss
1 August 2023
Diss Market Place has been home to a traditional Friday market for over five centuries and Diss Town Council, which oversees it, has done what it can over the years to keep the market vibrant and exploit its potential as a nursery for small business.
We are proud of our market, our long-standing traders, and the support it receives from regular customers. We want to ensure the market continues to thrive and with the national decline in visits to the high street, one of the Council’s strategic objectives is to investigate options for increasing the footfall in the town centre through increased market activity.
When an idea to trial an indoor market right in the heart of Diss and in fact next to the Market Place - in the former Beales building – presented itself, the Town Council considered its potential carefully.
Councillor John Robertson, Chair of the Facilities committee who oversees all things markets, said, “the primary driver of this project from a Council’s point of view is to generate more customers for our local traders who we know have been suffering with low footfall in recent times.
We will have to be mindful of the types of products and / or services that existing businesses both in the town centre and that our own market traders sell to avoid direct competition as this would somewhat defeat the object.”
Robert Ludkin, the Council’s longstanding Market Manager, said, “One of the biggest challenges with our outdoor market is the unpredictable weather conditions. Although come rain or shine, there is unwavering support from our community for our traders most of the time, it would be good to extend this opportunity inside particularly so close to our existing market. This, as you would expect, will be offered to our longstanding customers first before we commit to new local businesses. Access for any new traders will be from the rear of the former Beales building via Chapel Street so logistically should not have any impact on our existing market set up.”
There was good support for this initiative from local traders at the Full Council meeting in June when the Council considered the proposal. A trader with 40+ years of experience in the town spoke on behalf of traders regarding their concerns over shop closures, appreciation for the work of the Diss Community Team who are leading on the project and likened the longer-term potential of the initiative to the Forum in Norwich.
A former art teacher from Diss High School spoke about Diss’ potential and the opportunity to have space central to Diss for small enterprises and a member of DesignerMakers21 spoke about the positive feedback received from tourists regarding the town’s arts and craft offering.
One councillor spoke of his experience of a successful indoor and outdoor market operating 6 days and 2 days per week respectively in another town which drew shoppers into town.
The Council has only committed to trialling an indoor market for three months in the first instance. The model is simple, stallage will be received by the Town Council, who in turn will pay DCT £4 per m2 for the spaces used each week. The DCT is responsible for the former Beales building, associated payments and any risk and the Council has looked at how it can minimise the impact on its staffing resource to facilitate this venture.
If you’re a stallholder and interested in this new venture, please email the Town Council at email@example.com.