North West Leicestershire: Newmarket, Coalville
This project is the redevelopment of a derelict pub in the heart of Coalville to create a vibrant multi-use indoor space for residents and visitors.
Coalville is a former mining town in Leicestershire, which has suffered from a lack of investment over recent decades. However, the district council has ambitious plans to rejuvenate and transform the town centre. Part of the vison is to create an outdoor market and multi-use indoor space comprising of market stalls, street food outlets, event space and a small eating area. The outdoor market is still in the planning stage. On completion of the indoor space the council took the bold decision to open Newmarket as a stand-alone venture. This was done despite negative publicity suggesting that an innovative enterprise of this nature would never work in a traditional mining town.
Newmarket opened in September 2021. COVID-19 restrictions were still in place, consumer confidence was low, and the cost-of-living crisis swiftly followed. The first few months of operations saw many traders cease trading and footfall decline following the initial period of interest. The rhetoric of ‘it will never work’ continued but the council was confident that through the passion and determination of its staff and core traders Newmarket would be a success.
In a drive to increase footfall, attract new traders and raise the profile of Newmarket, the council focused on events and activities. Regular craft sessions now take place on a Tuesday and Thursday and the Creative Kids Club was launched to attract families into Newmarket on Saturdays and during school holidays. Evening events such as ‘Try and Buy’ and Open Mic nights attract customers of all ages and backgrounds from Coalville and further afield. All events and activities have a loyal following and are growing in popularity. Word-of-mouth recommendations and social media posts are encouraging more people to take part.
Families are benefiting from the free activities at the Creative Kids Club and many parents also take time to enjoy the food offer and browse the market stalls. The donation of craft materials from staff, traders and members of the public means the council can continue to run free activities during the cost-of-living crisis, which is a huge benefit to local families.
The craft sessions have grown from a small Knit and Natter group to twice weekly craft sessions. Participants are benefitting from making new friends in a safe environment whilst developing their crafting skills.
The evening events are attracting a younger crowd and the Open Mic Night has established Newmarket as a space where individuals can express their artistic talents whilst enjoying a night out with friends in a safe environment. The increase in visitor numbers has helped to support the start-up businesses trading at Newmarket.
Newmarket is more than a market. It is a vital and thriving community space, brimming with community spirit and goodwill. Footfall is increasing, and our regular traders are experiencing an uplift in trade. Positive comments on the council’s Facebook page now far outnumber the negativity we first experienced and is helping to make Newmarket a destination venue.