Andy Bamford, who runs the market, felt the market would not survive the year in its current position in New Road. He has been trying to find a more prominent position in the town for some time. He felt by the market being behind WHSmith, it was hidden away and missed out on passing trade.
This is not the first move in recent years. The farmers’ marked used to be behind Wealden’s council offices, but relocated because of the uncertainty of redevelopment of the Pine Grove site.
Mr Bamford has been trying to negotiate with Wealden District Council and Waitrose to use either the main car park off Croft Road or the area adjacent to the Bluebell Wood. In May, Waitrose told CrowboroughLife that a full review was undertaken following the request for a move to the Croft Road car park, involving the Chamber of Commerce and other stateholders. At the time a spokesperson for Waitrose said:
We want to see the farmer’s market thrive and while demand for parking on a Saturday means we are sadly unable to allocate spaces for them, we did explore the option to host the market on Sundays.
The supermarket pays the Council an annual fee to guarantee 205 free short stay places are provided during trading hours, as well maintain the car park and provide trolley bays. An agreement was signed between the two parties in 2003 and runs for 25 years.
As hopes to move to the Croft Road car park had failed, Mr Bamford approached the Social Club to use their car park:
It’s a smaller area, so I will never be able to expand the market, as was the original plan, which would bring more people to the town, but, I should have a core of successful traders. I am hoping to get up to 15 stalls in the area.
The switch is to make it more visible, have more passing trade as very few people ever came down to New Road, and increase trade for all the stall holders, and bring more people into the town centre which is what the town needs.
The Crowborough Farmers’ Market is held on every fourth Saturday in the month, from 9am to 1pm.