Our vision of the Chichester Butter Market's upper dining and meeting area
Chichester has changed in many significant ways since John Nash's design for the Butter Market came to fruition.
However, in spite of all our progress, there is increasing consumer demand for a return to the more traditional methods of food production that were the norm 200 years ago.
A growing awareness of environmental issues, combined with the generally poor quality of mass produced food, means that there is a need for a central space offering local food producers and start-up retailers a viable alternative to supplying supermarkets at unprofitable prices.
We believe the Butter Market provides the ideal venue - both historically apt and functionally appropriate - in which to fulfil the expectations and aspirations of Chichester's local producers and consumers.
A team of local experts, proud of Chichester's past and passionate about its future, has been brought together to do just that.
We believe our vision combines viability and sustainability. The outcome will be a network of sustainable partnerships forged between private finance, the community, and the council. Making use of a portfolio of small low-cost units and festival barrows, our scheme will be more robust than a larger but less dynamic scheme that targets typical high street retail chains and which is more likely to suffer from cyclical downturns in the economy.
We believe a more ethical and flexible approach to retail business is required; an approach that echoes the original purpose of the Butter Market in serving the needs of the consumers and producers of Chichester, rather than one which regards an historic building as simply an attractive shell for the ubiquitous modern retail mall.
Our vision is to see a return of the "toll" model originally used in the Butter Market. This will ensure that the consumer and producer are not used as a simple margin to be exploited in the retail environment. The toll model is a simple and fair way of bringing produce to market because charges to the producer are based on profits, which ensures that the producer retains a sustainable margin while the consumer pays a sustainable cost. In other words, producers benefit, consumers benefit, and Chichester benefits.
What can I buy?
The emphasis will be on a vibrant retail mix. Elements of that mix will depend on the specific suggestions we receive from local consumers and producers of what they would like to buy and sell.
And remember, existing tenants of the Butter Market will also have an opportunity to become part of this updated version of a classic, mixed retail environment.
It is important to us that small local producers have a chance to acquire a temporary 'high street' presence with low overheads. To that end, the Butter Market will contain "Festival Sites", which will offer short-term low-cost barrows to let for start up e-tailers and retailers to showcase their products.
To add to the exciting retail mix on offer, there will be a restaurant academy on the upper floor, which will offer both an opportunity for cookery education and a chance to dine on high quality good value cuisine. An associated wine shop will offer a sommelier service for diners. In the evenings the upper space will become the perfect venue for parties and special occasions.
There will also be healthy snacks and freshly prepared ready meals to take home. With everything made from fresh local produce, successful dinner parties will never have seemed so tasty - or so easy to prepare for.