Anticipation is building as the opening date of Preston’s new Market Hall is within a matter of weeks.
Construction workers have been present on site this week as final stages of the £3m development take place.
One area they have focussed on in recent days is placing the flagstones for the new public realm area and walkways through the Markets Quarter.
Council bosses have say they are working towards an official opening date on Monday, February 12, three weeks from today.
Customers are already able to enjoy the refurbished outdoor and second-hand markets, which moved back under the restored canopy, dating back to 1975, shortly before Christmas.
Coun Robert Boswell, deputy leader of the council, told the Lancashire Post: “Shop fitters are now on site with traders’ stalls taking shape.
“This is a very exciting and challenging point in the project.
“With a complex programme of works across the site the coming weeks prior to opening will be very busy.”
New parts of the market had been scheduled to open at the start of December but traders opted to spend the busy festive period in their current location for one last time.
Post-February, attention will turn to the next stage of the Markets Quarter refurbishment.
The vacated market building and adjacent car park is set for demolition to make way for a cinema and restaurant complex.
Construction works on this phase of the project is expected to take place throughout 2019 with a target date of late 2019, early 2020 in place for the opening.
Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome so many of our current traders to our new Market Hall and Box Market alongside some new and interesting local businesses. The mix of traders will complement each other and present an inspiring offer for our loyal customers as well as enticing in new faces.
“Shop fitting will begin in earnest in the New Year and we look forward to seeing the opening of the Market Hall in February with great excitement.
“We have been working closely with the market traders throughout and we understand that they want the best opportunity to fit out their stalls to the highest possible standard.”
Sam Livesey, chairman of the Preston Market Traders Association, added: “We cannot wait to be in our new home along with some of our neighbours and are also excited to welcome new traders to Preston Markets. After several years of planning and hard work the traders are excited that the new Market Hall will be opening soon. The building is looking great and we can’t wait to make the move.
“We are all working to the same objective: to create a fantastic destination market that Preston can be proud of.”
Among the plans are@
n More than 50 per cent of the stalls will be existing traders moving over
n The outdoor market will be adorned with bespoke trading tables as well as Preston Markets branded umbrellas
n The innovative Box Market has taken inspiration from well-known London markets
n Upgraded shipping containers located under the historic Fish Market canopy will provide contemporary trading spaces.
n The new Market Hall, located under part of the grand Victorian canopy, is a glass walled structure that lets in light at all angles
n The remainder of space beneath the canopy will continue to operate as an outdoor market during the day and flexible event and performance space in the evening.