Traders' fury over plans to move 800-year-old market away from Northampton town centre

  • Watch Graham Stothard's report for ITV News Anglia

A market has been held in Northampton's Market Square for nearly 800 years, but traders say their livelihoods are being put at risk because of the council's plan to temporarily move it.

West Northamptonshire Council wants to relocate the market to a "dead end" car park on Commercial Street, around 10 minutes' walk from the Market Square.

It is part of an £8.4 million redevelopment plan to spruce up the town centre, with work getting underway in August and due to be completed in March 2024.

Fruit and veg trader Eamonn 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick said: "It's absolutely crazy. They're nuts. It's been here 800 years, uninterrupted. Two World Wars, riots, recessions, even Hitler couldn't shut this place down."

A market has been held in Northampton Market Square for around 800 years. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Other market traders also believe the move will not be good for business.

John Greatorex, Owner of Cafe Continental, said: "We think the market's going to be fantastic when it's done up nicely.

"We're just worried for the 18 months or two years while they're actually doing it."

Elliott Jones, Owner of Tony Jones Florist, said: "I was 100% on board with it. When we were first spoken to, and we were told we're staying on the market during that so we could service, our customers.

"We were then told we could go so to Abington Street. And then three weeks ago they told us we couldn't go there either, because they're digging that up as well.

"So now we've left with the commercial street option, which is a dead end."

Les Brannan, Owner of LJB Rutherfords, said: "I'll earn no money for two years, which I've just done through covid.

"If the councillors are prepared to do the same and take no wages and take no money for two years, then that's fair enough." 

The council wants to create a cafe culture in Northampton town centre. Credit: West Northamptonshire Council

The council's vision is to create a cafe culture, with a tree lined avenue, and a new fountain.

Cllr Lizzy Bowen, from West Northamptonshire Council, said: "It is not an option to stay where they are now while the development work is being undertaken.

"That's not only from a cost perspective, but also from a health and safety perspective and from a hygiene perspective, not to mention the noise.

"So when you say that this area here is not inspiring, it isn't at the moment. OK, so we've got to make it inspiring."

The council also says it has to spend thousands of pounds to subsidise the market and the revamp will help make it profitable again.