Cardiff Market renovations: How do the traders really feel?

We weigh up the pros and cons of the proposed Cardiff Market renovations with stall owners in our new podcast, Talkin’ 9-5

Blue bell clock amid Cardiff Market stalls.
The summer of 2024 will see renovations begin at Cardiff’s iconic Victorian market. Image credit: Eve Davies

Plans to renovate Cardiff’s 130-year-old market, which will see the demolition of the two central aisles, landed on traders desks without consultation, stall owners reveal in our latest podcast.

According to plan, the renovations will mean a new 70-seat eating area on the ground floor will replace some traders’ stalls. Juliet Yeates, owner of On Time, said her stall will be “completely demolished” after 34 years in business, a decision she was not consulted about.

Juliet said: “They didn’t ask us what we thought about this proposal, they just landed it on our desk one morning. I speak to customers and they say to me, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.”

“There is so much history and energy here,” she added. “The emotion of this Victorian place is really fantastic. So if the market comes back devoid of that, then what is there to attract people in?”

Other stall owners are more optimistic

At 25-years-old Jacob Knight is the owner of Knight Vintage, a vintage clothing stall located in the central aisle on the ground floor of Cardiff Market. After existing here for three years, his stall is one of those being replaced by the seating area. Despite this, he hopes to continue trading in the market after the renovations. 

Inspired by a vintage clothing shop in North Thailand, Jacob began trading from his father’s spare bedroom. He started with a Depop shop but always knew he wanted his customers to have an in-person experience. The low rent prices and city centre location drew him to the market. He said: “I’ll always stay in the market. The fact I’ve got a spot in Cardiff Market is dope. I love it.” 

A little lick of paint won’t hurt. It needs to happen

Jacob’s business will not be able to operate from an outdoor location as per the plans to temporarily relocate traders during the building works. He is planning to create an online shop and use social media as a safety net during this time. 

“I’d love to be able to do it out of a little outside shop but it just isn’t viable,” Jacob said. “Outside shops get damp and some of the clothes I sell are very high-priced.”

As a younger trader, he admits the potential rise in rent is worrying as he will have to pay a higher bill for a smaller space. However, Jacob is optimistic about the renovations, providing the council handles them carefully. 

He said: “A little lick of paint won’t hurt. It needs to happen. Change is inevitable and it’s a good thing. It’s growth.”

Two girls (one brunette, one blonde) sat across table from one boy. On the table is three podcast recording mics.
We sat down with market trader Jacob Knight to discuss the impact the renovations will have on his business. Image credit: Ashley Thieme
What are the plans?

The restoration of Cardiff Market has been in the works since May 2023. Cardiff Council have now confirmed full funding of the revamp. A total of approximately £6.5 million will be invested in protecting, preserving and future-proofing the Grade II* Listed Victorian market.

This funding comes from external grants and loans – including National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Shared Prosperity Fund, and the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme – and direct investment from the council. 

Work on the market will begin in the summer of 2024. It will remain open with the renovations taking place on a phased basis. Tenants will be temporarily relocated to units on the Hayes, directly outside the market, for up to 12 weeks. 

As well as the new seating area, the list of works also includes improvement to the original Victorian drainage system, restoration of the market interior, and installation of roof-mounted solar panels.

Listen to our podcast Talkin’ 9–5 for more discussion about Cardiff Market renovations.