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SITE VISIT | Conlon’s Preston Market

Charlie Schouten

Work is well underway to bring Preston’s grade two-listed covered market back into use in a £3m restoration and new-build project. Main contractor Conlon is looking to begin its phased handover of the project to market traders in December this year. Place North West paid a visit to see how the scheme is progressing.

Conlon is working to build a new glazed interior to the 19th-century covered market, which will provide space for both existing and new traders with a focus on food and drink.

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Traders already attached to the market include a fishmonger, Caribbean food stall, a craft beer bar, and a jeweller, with around 75% of space earmarked for either food or drink operators. The craft beer bar will be run by the nearby Guild Ale House pub.

The main structure of the building was already restored before Conlon started on site, but the project has not been without its challenges, as Conlon chairman Michael Conlon explains.

Designed by Frank Whittle Partnerships alongside Greig & Stephenson, the market’s glazed area has taken inspiration from other similar spaces in both the UK and abroad, including London’s Borough Market and Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel.

The sloping site and its open nature has meant high winds have been a concern, and the glazed building, which sits underneath the covered market’s structure, has been designed to handle the elements.

This includes thick steelwork, which supports around 360 glass panels, as well as site hoardings supported by concrete to ensure site security and public safety.

The site’s two-metre gradient has also proved a challenge, and has meant that many of the stalls have had to be designed individually, rather than on a repeat and identikit basis, to accommodate the change in level.

Conlon is making rapid progress with the new glazed interior, which started in January and will be handed over for market traders to begin their fit-out in December.

While client Preston City Council is responsible for this phase, Conlon will still be present on-site to oversee fit-out works.

Conlon is replacing the stone flags both inside and out, with one area to be used as a flexible events space outside the market’s entrance. The contractor is aiming to get this area ready in time to host Christmas events.

The company has also secured an additional package to improve the building’s Orchard Street and Lowthian Street entrance, which it will complete during the covered market’s fit-out period.

Preston’s new outdoor covered market will replace the existing indoor market, which will be demolished to make way for a Muse-led development including a cinema and restaurants.

The overall Markets Quarter project, which includes the outdoor covered market, Muse’s scheme, and the restoration of the Fish Market canopy, is worth £50m.

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Excellent work………a game-changer for Preston.

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