An exciting new era for Swansea Market is set to start soon.
The iconic venue is about to become yet more welcoming to people who shop, work and live in the city centre.
Construction work is due to start next week on a creatively designed new area at the heart of the market where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves.
The work will take several weeks, with disturbance kept to a minimum and the market remaining fully open. Transparent fencing will go up around the construction area to keep people safe and to maintain sightlines for neighbouring stalls.
The green-themed Market Garden – due to open in good time for Christmas – will feature more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.
Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it will have free public Wi-Fi, power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles.
Highchairs will be available to those with young children. There will be warmers for baby bottles and food – and there will be a toddlers’ play table.
For the first time, dog lovers will be able to bring their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs will be able to enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”
The market, run by Swansea Council, attracts more than four million shoppers a year in non-pandemic times and is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses.
Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue.
“It will help the market play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.
“The new feature will be accessible, inclusive, well managed and will bring new footfall for traders to benefit.
“It’s designed for the benefit and enjoyment of all customers – for meeting friends and family, catching up on emails and enjoying the fantastic range of food available from the Market.
“It’s set to become a popular destination and is a flexible space that can also host events and exhibitions which will help attract a broader audience.
“These are exciting times for the market and the wider city centre.”
The Market Garden, which will be next to the famous cockle stalls, will be visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.
The new attraction’s design and name were decided by the public as part of a consultation exercise this year. Traders had an input too.
Key for the traders was maintaining sight lines across the market. This was achieved by designing an open pergola without any walls but onto which decorative features can be hung to add greenery and create atmosphere.
Once built, The Market Garden will stand on an under-used and relatively unattractive space in the centre of the market. It currently has tables rented by the day by casual traders.
They will cease trading in that area after this Saturday but will remain in the market, hiring space at a smart new area a few yards away and still next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.