• 4

    year project

  • 2

    visitor target


In November 2018, Cascade listened to Chester West & Chester Council’s ambitious plans for their New Northgate development to include a cinema, restaurants, car park and a new home for the market. The Cascade team became pivotal in the design of the market and other parts of the scheme.

The objective was to design a market which would maintain the 1,000 years of tradition, satisfying the needs of long-term market customers, while modernising to attract new visitors. The market had to become self-sustaining, which it was not in its previous location. The clear brief was to double the number of annual visitors to 2 million.

Chester Market


Cascade attended many meetings with stakeholders, existing traders, local businesses, residents and councillors. Using years of engagement experience, we listened to what the real issues and concerns were.

The first stage, before designing anything, was to work with the market management team to write a Market Manifesto. It clearly set out what was important for the city and its people, and the role the market intended to play. The language was informal, the tone playful, the message was about community, sustainability and introduced the idea of creating a ‘modern traditional market’. Accessibility and sustainability needed to be embedded into every aspect of the design.

Design began with the floorplan.

The Cascade team looked at successful market designs from around the world, notably in Lisbon, Barcelona, Seattle, New Zealand, Rotterdam and London. We reviewed floorpans, stall designs, materials and activities.

Food and Beverage was to play a significant role in the trader mix and uses, extending opening hours into the evening to attract different customers, while maintaining the traditional mix of butcher, fishmonger and general merchandise for the daytime, together with the market cafe for an all-day breakfast.

The layout avoided the increasingly popular central food court and large seating area and instead created four distinct seating zones with stalls all around them.

Zone 1, the atrium, with a large bar at one end, and a stage and screen at the other.

Zone 2, named the ‘mini market square’ mimicked the square outside, with mini roofs covering seating, child friendly seating and cupboards with board games and colouring materials.

Zone 3, off the atrium is a corner with tiered seating on three levels, looking into the atrium.

Zone 4, the “market garden’, on the glazed south-facing wall, provides an inside / outside seating area with plenty of sunlight and plants.

We worked as part of the client-team, briefing the architects on the layout, details, and materials. We worked with the client to select appropriate furniture and fixtures for each area.

We designed the new brand, grounded in the research and building on the Vision and Manifesto. It incorporates features from the city’s heritage along with colours and type influences from across the city. The central feature of the brand was to be a wild boar - the symbol of the Roman XX legion, who built Chester. We even sourced a bronze boar sculpture to guard the main entrance.

We designed modern and playful brand elements to support the main logo. With it we created feature and directional signage for the whole market. We provided the client with a brand pack which enabled their in-house design team to develop the website, social media content and leaflets.

The market design included big features designed by Cascade including:

- the main stage with large video wall screen used to feature What’s On information, live weather and travel info, video features of the traders, photos and art from local artists

- a heritage wall containing images each telling the story of the people and places who lived around the site over the past 2000 years;

- play features, including a wildlife trail, borrow-book shelves and games cupboard.

- Layered programmable lighting with aisles lit by low-level wall lights, high level RGB colour lights providing an overall colour wash and stage lighting, including gobos, for feature events.

- A sound system, to work within strict dB limits due to the cinema above, which provided overall sound for the whole market, separately controllable for each of the 4 seating areas and incorporating a strong main stage PA for live music and other performances.

- Accessibility was designed in, with single level access, table heights based on wheelchairs, benches with gaps to allow a wheelchair or pram alongside other diners, disabled, changing facilities, baby-change space, breast-feeding space and gender-neutral toilets among the features.

Cascade also integrated features proposed by the client, including three water fountains embedded into interesting features: a Tardis, a grocery delivery bike and a Tuk Tuk.


The market was constructed through the pandemic and opened in November 2022. In the first 12 months it cleared 2,000,000 visitors, the target - despite the neighbouring cinema not opening until 9 months after the market.

Significantly, the type of visitor varies tremendously, with elderly customers still visiting the butcher, fishmonger, cafe and so on. There are also young families, students, office workers, friend-groups, tourists and a good representation of disabled visitors. The feature stage has hosted regular live music sessions at weekends, community choirs, a signing choir, cooking demonstrations, business meetings, heritage talks, movie nights and more. The square outside, has begun to attract visiting specialist markets and features to help to increase footfall too. The market is thriving and is a very active hub in a revitalised corner of the city.


  • 60

    goods and produce stalls

  • 400


  • 40

    food and beverage stalls

  • 150

    jobs safeguarded


Cascade was my lead design and experience consultant from inception through to completion of our multi award winning New Chester Market. Alan and his team helped put together the Vision and Manifesto for the market, development of the ‘look and feel’ design and experience for the interior spaces, and the Chester Market branding, and lots lots of extras. More than anything else, Alan has the uncanny ability to see what I want, way before I know what’s needed!

Strategic Market Manager Cheshire West and Chester Council

We are excited to share that we received the 'Good' award from Chester Civic Trust! Recognised in their Good, Bad and Ugly Awards, nominated by members.

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Congratulations to Geoff Hughes family Butcher for winning the best Market Trader Award at last night’s Chester BID’s Customer Service Awards

After being a runner up in previous years, Geoff and the team are really chuffed to have WON the award this year

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We’ve been shortlisted for another award!

This time by the Royal Town Planning Institute, in their annual Planning Excellence Awards celebrating the best plans, projects and people. Well done to everyone that helped us deliver the fabulous new market for Chester.


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Chester Market has been awarded Best New Market by the National Association of British Markets.

Experience matters

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