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It was once a hub for savvy Sun­der­land shop­pers look­ing for a bar­gain or two … and later this month, Park Lane Mar­ket will once again be re­stored to its bustling best.

This win­ter, it will be the lo­ca­tion for the BID’s city Christ­mas Mar­ket, and it now looks likely that it will con­tinue on long af­ter the fes­tive sea­son is fin­ished.

Brian Jack­son, who has a very hands on role within the City Cen­tre Traders As­so­ci­a­tion, is qui­etly con­fi­dent that this could be the resur­gence the city has been wait­ing for.

“We are ex­cited, this is a very im­por­tant time for every­one in Sun­der­land,” he ex­plained.

“We have this won­der­ful fa­cil­ity sit­ting here, and it now seems like we could be mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion to re­store it to its for­mer glory.”

The mar­ket and its sur­round­ing area re­cently en­joyed a spruce up thanks to the 100 Project, an ini­tia­tive be­tween Sun­der­land Busi­ness Im­prove­ment District (BID), Sun­der­land Col­lege and Sun­der­land City Coun­cil.

All 3,000 stu­dents from the col­lege headed into the streets for a three-day cleanup cam­paign, which also in­cluded paint­ing some of the units and mak­ing it an at­trac­tive spot ahead of the Christ­mas mar­ket.

A call for lo­cal firms and busi­nesses to join the mar­ket over the course of its five week run proved to be such a suc­cess that all stalls are now filled.

“We’ve had an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse. We have all sorts of in­de­pen­dent traders signed up to join us. We have food and drink, gifts, toys, a lo­cal butcher who will be sell­ing tur­key and Christ­mas meat. Ev­ery­thing is here,” said Brian.

“It’s go­ing to be brilliant and will give peo­ple some­where lo­cal and in­ter­est­ing to come and do their Christ­mas shop­ping. It’s cer­tainly go­ing to be the best Christ­mas mar­ket we’ve seen in a long time.”

While the fo­cus at the mo­ment is on Christ­mas, Mr Jack­son is also ex­cited at the prospect of some of the fes­tive traders stay­ing on af­ter the event.

“We’ve had a re­ally fan­tas­tic re­sponse so far, and al­ready we’ve had a lot of traders ask­ing about stay­ing on af­ter Christ­mas. This is some­thing we are very, very keen to pro­mote.

“Sun­der­land, like all ci­ties, needs a mar­ket like Park Lane. Shop­pers need some­where a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent where they can go and en­joy in­ter­est­ing, quirky stalls where they can buy things you can’t get else­where.

“It’s all there ready. Traders can come in, set up and they’re away. It’s got such in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial, and I’m very much hop­ing we can keep the mo­men­tum af­ter Christ­mas.”

Mr Jack­son also be­lieves that if the mar­ket was full of traders, it would help en­cour­age more peo­ple into the Park Lane area, which in turn would help sur­round­ing busi­nesses.

“The big­gest prob­lem is get­ting peo­ple out of the main hub and into places like Olive Street and Der­went Street, which is where a lot of fan­tas­tic in­de­pen­dent shops are based.

“I think if the mar­ket was full and busy, it would only im­prove busi­ness for other shops as more and more peo­ple would come up to Park Lane.

“I’m very con­fi­dent about the fu­ture. Park Lane Mar­ket is an es­sen­tial part of Sun­der­land’s her­itage and it’s start­ing to look like we could be on the verge of turn­ing a big corner.

“It’s a very ex­cit­ing time, and I hope the city can get be­hind it, sup­port it and help grow it into a big suc­cess.”

The Park Lane Christ­mas mar­ket opens on Fri­day 24 Novem­ber and will then run each week­end up un­til Christ­mas Eve.

Sun­der­land Col­lege stu­dents take part in city cen­tre clean up.

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