Butter Market Chichester Proposal

Our vision of the Chichester Butter Market's new alfresco dining area

Chichester Butter Market

Chichester man heads local group planning to bring back glory to the city's Butter Market.

Chichester resident and leading investment banker Stephen Baker has brought together a group of like-minded local firms to restore the city's Butter Market to its former glory - both architecturally and as a vibrant market and meeting place.

The Butter Market in the city's North Street opened 200 years ago as a toll market, a concept that Baker believes it is time to resurrect along with the fortunes of the building itself. "The toll model is a simple and fair way of bringing produce to market," he says. "Because charges to the producer are based on profits, it ensures that the producer retains a sustainable margin while the consumer pays a sustainable cost. In other words, producers benefit, consumers benefit, and Chichester benefits."

As well as spending around one million pounds to refurbish the building, Baker plans to open the rear of the Butter Market to create a leisure area in a new pedestrianised courtyard. Baker says, "This is all about restoring the heritage of the original John Nash building and offering Chichester a new retail venue in sympathetic surroundings. By creating a new outside area for the market we are combining an exciting bustling market with an equally exciting space to relax, eat, and drink just feet away."

The group's plans are one of a number currently under examination by Chichester Council and their representatives. Baker feels, however, that his team's vision is the one that offers most to the community. "We believe that we have a vision of what serves Chichester best because we know the city and we know what a reinvigorated Butter Market would mean. It can become, quite simply, the beating heart of Chichester."

Baker's team of local experts - all proud of Chichester's past and passionate about its future - includes local architects Bayley+Willmer, local design and branding specialists BroomeJenkins, and local building contractors John C Lilleywhite. All have experience working on historic buildings both in Chichester and elsewhere in the country.

An overview of the group's detailed proposals for the Butter Market can be found on their web site at www.chichesterbuttermarket.co.uk and were presented to the public at an exhibition at the City Council on October 19th and 20th. The emphasis is very much on a retail mix that stresses local produce as far as possible. "Mix is important," says Baker. "We don't want the Butter Market to be seen as nothing more than an attractive historic shell for use by a large chain store or a standard retail mall."

Baker's vision is for a modern take on a classic theme. The combination of the original toll market ideals with a cutting edge retail philosophy that brings shop fronts, customers, and produce together will create a vibrant, dynamic, and ever-changing retail mix. He envisages a range of what he terms "festival barrows" situated on the building's ground floor. These epitomise the group's approach by allowing local start-up businesses and producers to acquire a "High Street" retail presence at an affordable cost. The flexibility of these integrated barrows means that the shopping experience retains an air of excitement as stalls change with the seasons and the availability of local produce. "Each visit to the Butter Market becomes potentially a fresh experience," says Baker.

There's more than just retail outlets planned for the site, however. In a newly upgraded first floor area there will be a restaurant academy - run by a leading chef and staffed by student chefs - which will offer high quality, good value dining during the day, as well as providing a meeting and entertainment space in the evenings for parties and special occasions. There are also plans for a sushi bar reliant on local seasonal seafood and a wine shop to supply both passing trade and diners and revellers in the restaurant area.

"What could be more exciting?" asks Baker. "A beautiful building, a wide range of local produce from food to crafts, and an exciting, vibrant space in which to shop, eat, or relax."

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