COLCHESTER Market will move to a popular shopping centre in a bid to attract more customers.

The future of the market in the High Street has been in the balance as this year saw the number of stall holders taking up pitches fall to a record low.

Alternative locations, a new Wednesday date and reducing fees form part of an action plan to revive the fortunes of the ailing market.

Now the Gazette can reveal talks are rapidly progressing to move the market to Lion Walk Shopping Centre and it will undergo a facelift with new gazebos, new traders and upgraded seating.

The market will still be managed operationally by the council, but all service matters will be overseen by Lion Walk Shopping Centre.

The move could take place as early at October 17.

Martin Leatherdale, centre manager at Lion Walk, said: “If you look back at the history of the market to Roman times and the Red Lion Hotel to 1465, it only feels right to protect our heritage and welcome the market to a new home.

“We can use our scale for good to help with its image and marketing, and functional service and standards.

“There are a number of incredible offers and unique propositions that aren’t duplicated in the wider town and it’s also incredibly beneficial traders can enjoy the footfall which is around 40,000 on a Saturday.”

Colchester market’s roots go back to Roman times when the High Street was the central street.

It has now been in Colchester High Street on a Friday and Saturday for three years after being relocated controversially from Culver Street West.

Mr Leatherdale said he met with traders to hear their individual stories.

He said: “This is literally a platform to start your own business empire and some of the personal stories are incredibly heartwarming such as the Syrian refugee who has grown his business from absolute grass roots.”

The two primary locations will be the paved area between Lion Walk Church and Eld Lane and the large open space next to Primark.

Traders have already shown an interest in the new location.

Mr Leatherdale said: “We are hoping all existing traders will come along to enjoy the new vision and have plans to partner with the council to help double the number of existing stalls over the coming months.”

Peck Colchester and Mex Appeal, two street food providers, have already expressed their interest in running stalls at the new location.

Matt Brown, from Gourmet Yorkshire Wraps, said: “I think it’s a positive move and hopefully it will be successful and it will be long term.

“The current location isn’t particularly good as it’s probably the weakest area in the town centre for shopping.

“I look forward to the prospect of working with Lion Walk.”

Colchester Council plans to make a number of changes to how the market is run.

It will encourage traders to take their own stalls rather than use the council’s “tired and tatty” ones which are coming to the end of their life.

Annastasia Ward, of Vool Vegan Cool, said: “I am really excited by the idea of the move. I think the spaces in Lion Walk will bring the market together.

“It will be nice to be in a pedestrian area and it’s an excellent move. The footfall sounds exciting as it can be quite quiet on the High Street.”

Martin Goss, councillor responsible for waste, environment and transportation, said it was a positive move for the town.

He said: “We are delighted Lion Walk is keen to trial an alternative site for Colchester Market.

“This is an exciting opportunity to enhance the market’s competitiveness and ensure the town centre is the go-to destination for shoppers.”

A separate Bavarian-style Christmas market will be held at the shopping centre at the end of November.

Any interested traders should email