Bid to beat big freeze in Preston's 'ice cube' market hall

Preston Council is having to splash out more money on its £3m state-or-the-art Market Hall just five months after it opened.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 10:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 9:13 am
The wind and the cold blows right into the market hall say traders

A chill wind has been blowing through the glass building, leaving stallholders and customers shivering in the cold and earning it the nickname “The Ice Cube”.Now a planning application has been submitted to build a porch with two sets of sliding doors on the breezy western side of the market – opposite the top of Orchard Street – to block off the draughts before winter bites.The council has admitted it needs to sort out problem with winds whistling through as a matter of urgency to “improve the useability” of the building for everyone inside.A planning statement lodged as part of the application, says: “This proposal aims to mitigate the present issue of draught inside the market hall building which is felt by both stallholders and the public and which is caused by the prevailing wind coming through the existing single set of doors.“The entrance lobby, as proposed, with two sets of glazed sliding doors, will lessen the effect of through draught and deliver a better internal environment for all.” Cabinet member for the environment, Coun Brian Rollo, said: “The council is seeking planning permission for the porch at the Market Hall as further investment in the building.“The proposed entrance porch is designed to reduce windflow through the building and, as with all unique buildings, we need to take time to see how it operates and if further modifications are needed.“As the new market has attracted extremely busy footfall with shoppers visiting throughout the day, the automatic doors at the Orchard Street end are almost continuously open.“The porch will create a wind barrier making the Market Hall more comfortable for traders and visitors.“The building has already received commendations for its design and this application shows the council’s commitment to have the best market in the region.“A report will be considered by Members at the end of August and, subject to planning permission, it is hoped the porch will be ready for winter.”But some traders are not sure it will have any noticeable effect, considering there are entrances on the other three sides and the glass cube has no top on it.“It’s really draughty,” said Jonathan Strand, who works on a cooked meat stall. “But I’m not sure all the draughts come from the doors because we’re exposed at the top. “Earlier this year we got snow blowing over the top and coming into the market hall.“When the bottom doors and top doors are both open at the same time we get a blast of cold air right through the place.“The whole building is cold because there is no top on it, but the draughts certainly don’t help.“One porch sounds to me like they are clutching at straws and trying to do it on the cheap.“It’s been great recently because we have had a good summer. But once the weather turns it will go back to being very chilly.”The new market hall, built under the Victorian canopy of the old outoor market, has been beset by temperature problems since it was first opened in February.The infamous Beast From The East big freeze left traders and shoppers perishing and, apart from the recent high temperatures, the draughts have become a daily nuisance caused by the constant opening and closing of the doors on all four sides.One regular visitor told the Post back in March: “It’s like shopping in a wind tunnel.”Shoppers have repeatedly complained that the heating in the market hall is inadequate due to the door problems and the fact that the glass cube is open at the top, underneath the refurbished canopy which is a Grade II Listed structure.Temporary heaters had to be installed at the depths of the big chill to thaw out stallholders and customers alike.The new porch, which it is hoped will stop the worst of the draughts, has been designed to “sit harmoniously with the existing Market Hall building”. It will be constructed of identical materials to match.The report adds: “It is intended that any proposed works to the building should follow the principles previously set throughout the building’s design, including the visual and structural separation of the Market Hall and canopy structures, positively enhancing and improving the character of the area, maintaining accessibility for all throughout and providing an integrate response to the local context and public realm.” But despite the temparature problems, the traders are said to “love” working in their new home, compared to the old 1960s indoor market which it replaces. That is due for demolition later this year.Butcher Sam Livesey, chairman of the Preston Market Traders’ Association, said: “There have been a few teething problems, of course there have. You get that with any new building. But the traders have been working with the council to sort things out.“It shouldn’t deter people from visiting the market hall because it’s an excellent shopping environment. “The new porch should improve things in terms of draughts. We’re all thinking positively about the future because this is a fantastic place to shop.“We are pleased to see the council proactively responding to our concerns and continuing to invest in the markets.“We’ve been open in the new Market Hall for five months now and it’s great to see new faces join our loyal customers in supporting traders and making Preston Markets a success.”

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An artist's impression of the solution to Preston's chilly market hall