Market traders in Devizes have demanded to be included in future discussions surrounding upgrades to the Shambles.

The town council hope to boost footfall in the indoor market and make it a more attractive building for shoppers.

Traders say they want this too, but that they are concerned that they have not been consulted with on what they referred to as “rumours” to create a food-court style development.

Concept art seen by the Gazette, from early pre-planning documents dated October 2020, detail a “mezzanine” style new layout of the Shambles with pods for vendors and more food and drink options.

The Shambles could be redesigned to create a café environment, with opportunities for specialist food retail space.

The town council say the leaked plans have not been set in stone, and will not be until further guidance is received from Wiltshire Council on what changes even can be made given the Shamble’s listed status.

Ideas have been sent to a planning expert to explore what realistically can be done before further talks are had.

But market traders, 30 of which descended on a council meeting on Tuesday (July 27) said the redevelopment as a whole had been kept “hush hush”.

The fiery meeting was punctuated with calls of “hear hear” and applause, but also angry outbursts and calls of “let me finish” as tensions flared.

Cllr Iain Wallis had visited the Shambles with Maria Hoult ahead of the meeting.





He said: “Having spoken to the traders we found none of them had been asked their views on the future of the Shambles or been consulted on the plans you are being asked to progress to the next stage.

"This is a group of people whose livelihoods depend on the Shambles thriving and who have tremendous amounts of experience in market trading so they are the very first people we should have spoken to about the future of the Shambles. The fact we didn’t is concerning.”

He added: “This issue must not turn in to another Market place with people feeling ignored because the very simple step of talking to the town has not been taken.”

The building, which dates back to 1835, is grade two listed and therefore extensive discussions need to be had with Wiltshire Council on the potential for any redevelopment.

Town clerk Simon Fisher explained that the redevelopment was in incredibly  early stages.

He added: “We don’t know what we can do the building, we still don’t know what we can physically do to the building until we get more advice.

"We do need to consult, but what we need to consult on has to be on what can be delivered.

“What we need to do is see if any of these options are actually deliverable, and that’s the bit we still don’t know because some of the constraints put on us by the listed planning officer. I’m asking the council tonight to let us continue the journey.


The Shambles

The Shambles


“Once we know what options we can work with then we can have some really meaningful conversations with the community and traders.”

Cllr Judy Rose added: “This is the very start of a possible project to try and make the Shambles better, more worthwhile and more useful to you and better for the town.”

The decision on whether or not to spend £20,000 to bring the current Shambles proposal to an official planning stage will be made in August, at the next meeting of the Full Council.

Traders' views

Market traders stressed that they want the draughty, often dark, upgraded as much as the Town Council do.

But future plans should be made with feedback from current vendors, explained Marcus Taylor.

He works seven days a week and has a unit within the Shambles.

He said: “They have spent a lot of money on these plans, but what happens to us? Why can’t the money spend on current consultation go on the market as it is now. None of us have been consulted, it’s been kept hush hush.”

Michelle Turner, who runs the Phoenix Health and Wellbeing unit, asked for a meeting to be held with traders and for better advertising to help “bring the Shambles back to life.”





“This place means so much to me,” she said. “We all want the best for the Shambles, but we need to be included.”

Traders also spoke about the importance of the space as a social setting for older members of the community, especially during bad weather. Since the popular ‘SoupChick’ launched in a Shambles unit nearly two years ago, they have also noted a “real buzz.”

Dave Dun, who owns the Vintage Tool Company, said after the meeting “It’s more than just the units, this is my social life here, it’s what I do and what I love. We don’t want to lose it.”