There is an air of anticipation among Chesterfield traders as they get set to move back into the revamped market hall.
Stallholders and customers say they can’t wait to see the £4m refurbishment when the iconic building opens in autumn.
But the work has been dogged by controversy including months of delays and traders losing thousands of pounds after being relocated to the temporary market hall.
Some claim the overhaul was a waste of money and the new-look too modern - but Chesterfield Borough Council has pressed on with its vision and invited the DT for a sneak peek behind the scenes last week.
Since our last trip to the venue in June it is clear great progress has been made and a team of builders have transformed the building into a modern retail hall.
Scaffolding is still in place and the building needs a lick of paint but the major work is completed and the hall is on target to reopen in October.
Council leader John Burrows said: “At a time of cuts we have invested in the market hall project because we have identified how important this is to the town’s economy.”
All previous traders have been offered a space in the new hall after presenting good business plans to the council.
In addition, six new traders have been offered spaces and there are currently only seven remaining units available.
The cafe, which will be the focal point of the ground floor, will be run by start-up business Market Plaza Cafe and managed by mother and daughter team, Lynne and Shannon Benison.
Shannon said: “I’m really looking forward to putting my skills and knowledge to establish the new and exciting business venture in the new market hall.”
The new cafe will be open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday offering breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea options.
Stallholder Lisa Prisk, of Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe, said she was looking forward to the move.
She added: “It’s been a long 12 months.
“It needed doing and we knew it was going to be difficult but we didn’t realise it would be this difficult. It’s been tough but we’re still here.”
Lisa said she had not made any money since moving into the temporary hall in New Square Arena last October.
But added: “I will be in a bigger unit in the market hall and I’m expanding my range into greeting cards and little gifts.”
Sharon Cowley-Booker, of Scentiment, said she welcomed the revamp but trading in the temporary hall had been tough.
She added: “It definitely needed doing.
“I’m looking forward to moving in. A lot of customers have been asking about it and they’re excited to see inside.”
£2.1 million for the project was provided by the European Regional Development Fund and a Lottery grant and the rest by Chesterfield Borough Council.
Cllr Burrows said: “I am looking forward to welcoming traders old and new to the market hall when it reopens in October.
“I would like to thank the existing traders for their patience while the building work has been taking place and I hope they will be as happy as I am about the new facilities we will be able to offer them.
“I am also proud to welcome a local start-up business to the new cafe and am pleased that they will be offering apprenticeship opportunities to our residents.”