Brace yourself! I’m going to say something fairly controversial here… I actually really like the new-look market square in Salisbury.
The planners seem to have created the architectural equivalent of Marmite with our market square, don’t they! We either love it, or we hate it. I, for one, love it. I think it’s far superior to the patchy, grubby car park we had before.
It’s as if we’ve all forgotten what it was like before: dark, grubby, tired and old. The market was set out in the exact same way for as far back as I can remember, with an occasional change of individual stalls here and there. On non-market days, it was used as a car park: great if you just want to nip into a shop and don’t want to use Park and Ride; not so great if you’re at all interested in the aesthetics of the largest open space in the centre of an historic, Medieval city.
I love the way the market itself has been re-designed along with the square it sits on. There are new stalls, and it’s set out in a different way. These days, in the centre of the market, there are seating areas and stalls selling freshly cooked food. It’s light and airy without the market traders’ lorries on there, blocking out the sun. I know they don’t like it, but I’m sure Salisbury is not the only market where lorries are not allowed on the square.
Salisbury is a tourist city. People come here from all over the world. Like it or not, they expect something a little more grand and up-to-date than the Tarmac wasteland we had before. Yes, it’s a little empty a lot of the time, and could do with some flowers or something else to break up the area – but I don’t think a car park is what’s lacking here.
I love it, that you can wander across the market on a Sunday morning, and see people sitting out in cafe seating which is creeping further and further across the square.
There are children on scooters, and dogs being walked, and people just milling about. If you look at the central squares of many great European cities, you’ll see pretty much the same thing – a square, just being a square.
Everyone loves to have a moan, and yes, the price tag was a little expensive – but we’ve paid for it now, haven’t we? All of the grumbling and moaning in the world won’t make any difference to what’s already been done. Anything else we can persuade the powers-that-be to do with it will end up costing us more money.
So really, we may as well just shut up and enjoy what we have, don’t you think?