Eagle-eyed visitors to this humble website may have noticed we have quietly updated the Market Place page to show the outcomes of the consultation we carried out over this summer and early autumn about the redesign of Market Place. This blog post is a summary over how we consulted, who we consulted and what you told us.
What was the consultation about?
Basically, the small area of public open space at Market Place is due to be improved as part of the THI, much like Leyland Street and Atherton Street before it. However, unlike Leyland Street and Atherton Street, which are both adopted highways, the space at Market Place is a pedestrian-only space and in its present configuration has no real purpose or uses, so it is as good as a blank canvas.
The public open space at Market Place in 2014, when the church roof was being repaired. This is the best photo I have of the space.
See that bloke using the space as a short-cut? That’s a rare instance of the space being used.
We thought the best people to tell us what the site should be used for are Prescotians – whether they are residents, businesses, school pupils, live or work close to the site, are town centre shoppers or are members of community or faith groups. The last thing we want to do is redesign the space and it ends up being something that nobody wants or to have missed an opportunity to do something people really wanted to see happen to the site.
When did we consult?
The consultation period was spread over June to September 2016 – that way we could involve people before, during or after the summer holidays and work with local schools either at the end or beginning of the school year. There was also an online survey available during the entire consultation period.
We also held events at workshops at different times of the week and month – including the annual Elizabethan Fayre and the monthly Arts and Crafts Fayre.
The final event was on Saturday 3rd September.
How did we consult?
We put this in the able hands of the experts: Placed to be precise! Jo Harrop and her team, which includes a large number of architects, landscape designers and other built environment professionals who volunteer their time and expertise, set about coming up with a range of activities and ways of gathering people’s thoughts and ideas about Market Place.
The Placed staff and volunteers who ran the final consultation event at Prescot Shopping Centre – complete with bingo, an exhibition, mug making, t-shirt decorating, a vote on the use of the space.
Bingo! We wanted people to enjoy the consultations, so it wasn’t all about urban design and planning.
The workshops and ‘design slams’ asked people to make models of their vision for Market Place, choose the best and worst of 108 different pictures of ideas, concepts and uses for public spaces, mark up plans of the site, give written feedback, discuss… … but it wasn’t all Market Place. Placed incorporated bingo, t-shirt making, mug decorating and an architectural treasure hunt to get people active and involved. The group from the Prescot School got to visit Market Place and have a go at surveying and understanding the site and its surroundings.
What do people want to happen to Market Place?
Our consultation was so open that we even gave the option of keeping the Market Place site as it is – not a single person out of 325 event attendees and 205 completed surveys wanted to see the space stay as it is. Just as well!
Rather than me repeat what Placed found out, please have a look at the four page summary here (only two pages are text) and the four page findings document here. If you’re super-keen the full report (43 pages plus appendices) is here. Sorry! Better you see the actual report than have me give a summary to a summary!
A snippet of the cover of the detailed report on Market Place.
Go on, I can’t be bothered downloading the summary. What did the feedback say?
A range of uses were popular – a space to sit and relax, a space for weekly or monthly markets, a space for monthly or less frequent community events and performances, there was also support for the idea of there being either a permanent or temporary / pop-up food and drink unit on the site, complete with WCs. A space for young people and gardening were also popular. These suggestions will give plenty of food for thought for anyone trying to redesign the space!
An example of a model and preferred images (out of a selection of 108) made by a group at one of the workshops.
People’s suggestions at one of the ‘Design Slams’
People were also very thoughtful as to how the space would function year-round and after dark – people wanted the space to be able to be used in the different seasons and be well lit, maybe incorporating shelter / cover. Similarly something ambitious and eye-catching should be done with the site, but respect the traditional character and materials used in Prescot.
What will happen with all of this feedback?
We are committed to holding a design competition among professional designers (architects and landscape architects) so we have something special, high quality and bespoke at Market Place and the THI can sign-off in style in 2018.
The responses that we have received will be treated as the community’s brief for the Market Place site – what uses the site should be put to, the character and appearance the site should have, the things a designer will have to consider. We will be expecting any successful design to fully reflect local people’s ideas and aspirations for Market Place.
The design competition will run next year – info about this will appear in due course on the Market Place page of this humble website, plus this even more humble blog!