MARKET traders are hoping a street food redevelopment will help attract new customers.

There are now just six traditional market stall holders left in Darlington's Victorian covered market, including two butchers, two greengrocers, a deli stall selling items like cheese, jams and eggs and a fishmonger.

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The newly developed street food market is set to be unveiled on Friday following a redevelopment which has been going on since the start of the year.

Six food stalls will be opening in part of the market, which has been redesigned to include seating, a bar and a performance area.

Market Asset Management (MAM), which runs it, is hoping the investment will increase footfall to the market and to the town, providing a boost for the remaining stall holders, who have been feeling the pinch in recent months. 

A number of traders have left in recent months, including to the Cornmill Centre and other town retail units.

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There are now just six regular stall holders in the indoor market, who have been sharing their views about the development.

Nick Fenwick, whose family butcher counter has been operating in the market for 34 years, said: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming.

“We need more stalls in the market and more people in the market.

“Hopefully this will bring in trade.”

To celebrate, he will be offering a 20 per cent discount on hot food from Thursday, to Monday.

He added: “I just hope people come in and have a look to see what it’s like.

"Things do change and you’ve got to go with the times.”

Grocer Robin Blair, who runs the market's longest standing stall, said: "We're looking forward to it opening up and we're hoping it is going to increase the trade in the market. It will be nice to get it opened up instead of having half of it closed and try and get back to some normality."

He added: "I think we've been a bit neglected and forgotten, I don't think they have considered the traditional market. We need a bit of a refresh. I can remember the days we had 75 stalls and we're down to six which is a shame. It's sad to lose the atmosphere.

"We've still got a good selection and some good stalls with good produce, but we've lost the variety we had. It's sad we've lost the space we had."

Veg stall holder Craig Shields, who has been in the market for 18 years but recently relocated to make way for the development, said: “We’ll have to wait and see how it goes. Hopefully it will bring a few extra into the market.

“It’s definitely something they’ve needed to do.”

Butcher David Jackson, whose family has been running a counter since 1978, added: “I’m looking forward to it and seeing something different. I think it will be bringing a few people into the market and hopefully they will see what we have and purchase stuff from us. It’s a big change and something different.”

He added: “It’s been a bit of a nightmare with the noise and the dust. It’s been hard work working in a building site.

“But we would like to see a few more people coming into the town and hopefully this will work. I just hope the price is right.”

Cheesemonger Graham Groves said: “I hope it’s going to work out. We probably need it to because there’s only six of us. We’ve waited this long to see whether its what the people of Darlington want.”

He added: “I’ve been here 25 years and we need it to keep going. The bigger the footfall the better the chance. I can see where they’re going with the younger generation.

"As long as it helps us, good luck to them.

"That’s what we need it to do and what we’re hanging on for.”