An underused city centre market has been given new life thanks to a Christmas spruce up.
Park Lane Market has suffered a fall in numbers in recent years which led to just a handful of stalls remaining, but there’s now more in store for shoppers as it plays host to a Christmas market.
From today, a host of stall holders, selling everything from artisan coffee and homemade jewellery to brownies, have taken up pitches on the site.
They will be on site for the next five weeks from Thursdays to Sundays to give shoppers the chance to pick up gifts and treats from independent traders.
The market is the brainchild of Sunderland BID who’ve worked closely with local businesses in a bid to breathe new life into the area.
Sharon Appleby, BID director, said: “Sunderland hasn’t got a lot of great spaces for markets and the areas we do have, such as Market Square, are very weather dependent.
“We were talking about what we should do in the city centre for Christmas and everyone really wanted to see a Christmas market, but we struggled with a location. So we approached the council and asked if we could see what we can do with this space.”
As part of October’s Project 100 scheme, which saw Sunderland College students give tired areas of the city a clean-up, the market was given a facelift including artworks created on the shutters.
Sharon said: “The students did a great job and we just finished it off. We’ll be here on weekends for the next five weeks with a mix of traders which will change each weekend so there’s always something new for shoppers, while independent traders can get a chance to try new ideas.
“There’s a big master plan for Holmeside and Park Lane Market is part of that so we’re not sure if this market would be long-term, but if it proves sustainable we’re hoping to be able to take it elsewhere in the city centre. When you go to places like London they have night markets and there’s BoxPark in Shoreditch where they host pop ups in shipping containers, these are the kinds of things we need to do to bring people into the city.”
The market is part of a programme of events taking place for Christmas with an ice rink opening in Keel Square from Thursday.
Sharon said: “Last year a lot of people said the Christmas activities were all focused at Keel Square so we’ve tried to spread it out this year and have been working with Park Lane businesses, such as Port of Call and Hidden.”
The bars have already been putting empty space in the market to good use with open air bar Hidden taking up former units in the market and Port of Call opening a tipi bar in a former loading bay at the market.