SHOPPERS in Sheffield are seeing the first signs of work on the city’s £17.5 million Moor Market - as traders in the area have been provided with new stalls ahead of builders moving in.
The outdoor market stands were previously spread along the shopping street, but they have now been grouped together on gazebo-type stalls.
And they are proving a hit with the traders, who are hoping the arrangement will be permanent.
The long-awaited Moor Market hall was first proposed 14 years ago, and construction is soon set to begin on the 79,000 sq feet building on empty land opposite Atkinsons.
It will house 200 stalls, plus eight two-storey shop units, and is planned to open in November next year.
Outdoor market trader Ray Newman, who sells vacuum cleaner spares and electrical accessories, said he was delighted with his new stall, outside the area earmarked for the new building.
“We’re all together on a nice section at the bottom of The Moor, it’s like a proper market now,” he said.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be permanent and we’re still going to be outside when the new market is built.”
Ray said the new stalls make The Moor look ‘more appealing’.
“It might get more interest from the public - trade down The Moor has been so poor,” he said.
“We want to let people know we’re here.”
Ray, aged 57, who lives in Hillsborough, said he had seen big changes over 25 years of running his stall.
“Trade was a hell of a lot better when I started than it is now. Most of the shops were open then,” he said.
“I think something definitely needs to be done, it does need redeveloping. It’s got so rundown. When you look at Fargate, it’s a lot more appealing.”
Shirley Watkinson, who runs a cosmetics stall, said she was ‘delighted’ with the new outdoor market.
The 59-year-old, from Firth Park, said: “We’re pleased, we’ve had a good response.
“Hopefully the public will get behind us. We’re giving them a market atmosphere, we’re building up trade for when the new market comes, so I hope they don’t move us.
“The only thing is the practicality of the stall in bad weather. There’s not much of a covering.”
And pet food seller Peter Chappell said: “Position-wise the new stalls are alright. It’s a bit too early to see the impact on trade but at the moment it’s not been too bad. We have had to downsize to smaller units so I’ve had to cut down on the range of my stock.”
The new Moor project is intended to replace Castle Market, which has seen a steep decline in visitor numbers. The market hall will have fewer stalls than the 238 at the older site, but 40 per cent of Castle Market’s stalls are unoccupied.
The upper part of The Moor is also going to be repaved at a cost of £2.6 million, at the same time as the new hall is built.