Market Toolkit

What is required to get a market started?



Three markets


At South Cambridgeshire District Council, we have a goal to create easier visibility and accessibility to local markets throughout our region. Markets play vital roles within our towns and parishes whilst creating community spirit and encouraging small-scale business growth.

There are endless benefits to local markets but we recognise the many challenges which can be posed when starting anything new. Our toolkit is here to support local towns and parishes that harbour any desire to begin planning a new local market, and we really want to hear from anyone in this position.

It is advisable that before instigating any market, a Community Consultation process is carried out. This can be done through a number of different means and ultimately is there to establish the demand and expectations for any market you may wish to create.

A common method for gauging public reception to a market is through a publicised online Microsoft Form survey. This is not exclusive as there are other survey platforms available (including Surveymonkey), however, it's an effective tool in asking for general feedback, giving you a better understanding on how you need to move forward.

Alternatively, and instead of an online survey, you may prefer to have in person consultations at local community events. Recruiting support for your market this way, in a public arena, may be a more effective way to determine this. Reaching out to your local Parish Councillor to instigate something similar to this may also be an option.

In the event you don't believe consultation would prove advantageous, starting a market and establishing it organically may be your preferred route.

Traditionally, you may associate a market with an outdoor venue such as a green space, village common or even facilities attached to churches or other community buildings.

Large car park spaces and local village halls, where available, can often be the perfect location for markets.

Other hard-standing areas like local school playgrounds or wider pedestrianised sections of pavements can also be utilised. This may be easier in the long run as you don't have to factor in road closures with highways licenses and permits.

Indoor event venues must be accessible to all visitors and will require permissions. Across South Cambridgeshire, village halls are often used to accommodate markets especially in bad weather.

Due to the pandemic, village halls have been less widely used and some remain empty for long periods of time. In some cases, classes and group activities are beginning to emerge again with more regularity, but if an opportunity presents itself to use your local village hall [PDF, 0.2MB] or community centre, it may be beneficial to contact them for more information on how to do this. 

Your market should accommodate everyone. At times, this may include certain individual requirements as well. When looking for a suitable venue, it is best to consider:

  • Facilities available in the venue (e.g. village hall kitchens)
  • Car parking (for visitors, extended market space and traders - loading/unloading vehicles)
  • WC facilities
  • Power supplies (for traders and lighting if your market is held in hours of darkness)
  • Disability access (e.g. ramp to get in, lift to three floors, disabled toilets)
  • Water availability
  • Waste collection
  • Secure storage space for market stall/marquees

Any facilities used for a market may require certain permissions. In the event that land is needed as well, requests may need to be approved. With relation to any relevant permissions, please ensure to: 

  • Obtain any permissions in writing where possible
  • Consider insurance costs and who will be liable if accidents/injuries unfortunately occur
  • Consider the potential cost to lease land and/or facilities

Markets can carry one particular theme or can be a healthy mix of many - that's the beauty of them!

Seeing a range of local independent businesses all being promoted in one marketplace is usually very common, however, markets can be instead specifically targeted at one theme too. Beyond the typical range of products one might find at a market, we are now seeing more eco-friendly and sustainable-focused marketplaces, vegan food fares, craft guilds and even coffee festivals.

When starting your market, you may have a choice to make in terms of what theme you wish to take on. It could perhaps be one of the following:

  • General market (selling a range of household products, gardening equipment, clothes and accessories etc)
  • Farmer's market (offering fresh goods and groceries such as fruits, locally sourced vegetables, fresh bread, meat, fish, honey, eggs etc)
  • Food market (promoting food trucks and mobile caterers from the district with a range of different cuisines and flavours)
  • Craft / textiles market (handcrafted items such as glasswork or woodwork)

With any market, there are different types of new street trading consent policies in place and it is the responsibility of the market organiser to ensure traders are registered with South Cambridgeshire District Council. 

Who is being tasked with organising your market? There are several choices:

  • Community led
  • Your Parish Council
  • Your Town Council
  • Your District Council
  • A private enterprise

In all of this, you may want to consider if it will be run by paid staff (for example a market manager and assisting support staff) or by local volunteers. If your aim is to solely benefit the community around you, learning more on Community Interest Companies (CICs) might be worthwhile as this offers more flexibility away from charitable status guidelines.

Alternatively, joining a network of likeminded market stallholders is also an option. As seen with some of our district markets, Country Markets have assisted in creating and assembling market communities.

Another question any market will ask itself is how often it will run and for how long during the course of the day?

Simply, it can be as often or as occasional as you want but gauging the local demand and appetite for your market may dictate its frequency. South Cambridgeshire's existing markets range from being every week to once per year, but you may wish to consider having yours:

  • Daily
  • Weekly (perhaps twice per week, once on a weekday and then on a weekend)
  • Monthly (the first or third Saturday of each month is commonly used)
  • Seasonal (e.g. a Christmas Market or outdoor summertime event)

As for trading hours, it is commonplace to have between two and three hours, perhaps from late morning to early afternoon. However, this can range too:

  • Morning (for example, 08:30am to 11:30am)
  • Afternoon (for example, 12pm to 3pm)
  • Evening: (for example, 5:30pm to 7:30pm, perhaps an event attracting mobile caterers to a village hall or an approved consented premises)
  • All day

During the pandemic, contactless payment methods have overtaken traditional cash transactions. Many market stallholders now opt to use contactless terminals as fewer people now carry notes and coins. We recognise budding stallholders may need more information on this subject, so please take a look at our guidance document on taking payments at markets [PDF, 84Kb]

A typical feature of any community or market event is the assessment of health and safety. There may be risks to the public when operating a market and it is the responsibility of stallholders and organisers to ascertain and comply with health and safety legislation.

Failing to follow particular requirements set out in legislation and/or guidance may be viewed as a breach of a licence agreement to trade at your market. It is important to consider the following when organising a market or attending as a stall holder:

  • Risk assessments – identify the hazards, assess the risk (how likely is it that someone could be harmed and how seriously); identify what control measures you already have in place, and whether any further controls are needed. Be sure to document the findings and review them regularly. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have useful guidance regarding risk assessments, with template and example risk assessments.
  • Site management (e.g. thinking about different hazards that may occur around the market side such as the impact of moving vehicles in possibly confined spaces such as car parks)
  • Fire safety checks (e.g. does the market site comply with current fire regulations and have a fire risk assessment?)
  • LPG checks (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) - a stallholder using LPG at your market will need have had it inspected by a Gas Safe Register engineer. As a market organiser, evidence of this could be a condition of trading. Furthermore, the strategic placement of stallholders away from higher risk areas on site needs to be considered. More information can be found with The Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  • Noise and light compliance (e.g. will running a market disturb nearby residential neighbours or businesses - consent or at the very least notice should be given in this instance)
  • Weather forecasting for outdoor events (e.g. putting preventive measures in place to prevents slips and trips, as well as bracing against strong winds with sturdy equipment and gazebos)
  • First Aid (e.g. having qualified individuals on site and the necessary in date equipment) and whether your facility / location has a First Aid Kit. For larger scale market events, you may consider using a qualified voluntary service like St John Ambulance
  • Slips, trips and spills can occur at market events, so it is advisable to have procedures to reduce these risks such as having spill kits available, absorbent material to soak up any liquids or having spill resistant matting laid in front of food / drink stalls. Ensure all wires, cabling and other trip hazards are removed from public walkways

Organisers and traders are recommended to understand and recognise all of the above and how to navigate any potential incident that occurs. 

As well as this, adhering to other local legislation may be required too. Councils and local authorities may need to see evidence of:

  • Public Liability Insurance and accidental damage cover
  • Registration of  food vendors with a local authority (e.g. are they registered with their local authority and have they been provided with a national food hygiene rating scheme score 0-5
  • Stallholders' commitment to being Trading Standards compliant
  • Temporary Events Notice (e.g. if selling alcohol and there is organised entertainment at your event)
  • Depending on the market size and how many people are expected to attend, there may be certain risks posed that require the approval or attendance of a Safety Advisory Group.
  • Intentions to close public roads to host a market will require a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO applications need to be made to CCC)

In the event your market traders specialise in edible goods, keeping food safe, appropriately labelled and fresh is a crucial aspect to consider. Guidance on food hygiene and allergen labelling requirements can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

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