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Uplands Market

The idea

The purpose of the initial project was to demonstrate the qualities of public space in a usually car-dominated area by establishing and sustaining a once monthly on-street local produce market, focused on high quality artisan sellers, and boosting social and commercial vitality. ‘Pop-up’ (or ‘tactical’) urbanism is a term that’s since been coined for such initiatives.

What we did

We worked with local people, including local businesses, local Councillors and members of the community, to create a once-monthly street market. We consulted with the Local Authority, the various statutory agencies, prospective stallholders, and the community. We researched best practice and established a business plan and operational model, and formed a social enterprise to deliver the initiative. We then developed the operational procedures and marketing of the initiative. The markets take place monthly, selling a huge range of Welsh produce from beautiful hand-made items to delicious fresh food.

Impact of our work

The Uplands Market was a huge success from the beginning – it doubled in size within its first month and attracts hundreds of shoppers every month, with many traders that attend citing it as the best market they attend. Market day is now a firm feature of the local area – it contributes to creating real buzz to the area, with local retailers reporting significant increases to their trade.

Following the success of Uplands Market we established the Marina Market in Swansea’s Marina quarter, which regularly features around 50 stallholders and very high footfall, again attracting rave reviews from customers and traders alike. Following on from that we’ve added regular markets at Mumbles, Glynneath, Port Talbot, Swansea University and a host of ‘one-off’ events in various locations, varying in size but each using the same ethos of activating and demonstrating the qualities of public space, boosting footfall and focusing on what makes for good trading conditions.

The initiative has created a sustainable social enterprise, which has created a full time job for a recent graduate, and provides an outlet for artisan producers to sell their wares. Additionally, it succeeds as a mechanism that activates public spaces and (re)makes them as people places, where local communities come together every month. They are firm fixtures in the Swansea calendar and have won rave reviews from stallholders, local businesses and the general public.

Research that we conducted in the Uplands and Marina Markets shortly before our fifth birthday in 2018 indicated that 70% of shoppers were only in the area because the market was on and that most of them would spend at least £10 – £20 in local shops other than the market stalls themselves (meaning that this is all ‘new spend’ in the local economy that is a direct result of the market), and also that the markets had helped in improving perceptions of the local area.

The Uplands Market was featured as one of the Daily Telegraph’s Top 10 street markets in the UK, has twice been a runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards, and was also the nominee from Wales put forward for the BBC Radio Wales ‘Best Food Market’ category at the 2015 BBC Food & Farming Awards. The Uplands Market also contributed to the Uplands being voted the 14th hippest place in the UK in Travel Supermarket’s 2016 survey and they have been recognised annually in the Swansea Life awards.

The market has also been cited as a best practice case study in the Design Commission for Wales’ Placemaking Guide 2020, which can be found here.

You can find out more about Uplands and all of the other markets via the website:

  • "The Uplands Market has been a massive boost to trade and to the Uplands in general. Market days are lively and vibrant, there is always a really good atmosphere and the huge increase in footfall is good for everyone. After several years the Market continues to make a positive impact and long may it continue!"
    Alex Clatworthy, Chattery Restaurant, Uplands