You are in: OneThetford » Open Space » Thetford Market Place

Thetford Market Place

Thetford Market Place is the area of land in front of the Guildhall in the centre of town, and is owned by Thetford Town Council.

The land is hard-surfaced, and a market is held there on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the year. Prior to 2020, the space was used as a car park the rest of the time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the car park was closed to allow for better social distancing. The Town Council later decided to make this closure permanent, to allow the space to be used for outdoor seating and events.

Thetford Market Place, looking towards the Guildhall. May 2020.

Change of Use Considerations (2019–2022)

From around 2019, the Town Council has been considering the future use of the Market Place, and whether to remove the car park in favour of a public square that could be more readily used for events and other activities.

In September 2020, the Town Council ran an online consultation on the future of the Market Place, but it was not particularly well publicised. It is understood they also canvased visitors to the Market Place, but the pandemic would have altered people's habits.

The car park was closed during the much of the Covid-19 Pandemic, with local businesses (e.g. The Red Lion) permitted to use the space to allow for better social distancing.

At a meeting on 29th October 2021, the Council resolved to re-open the car park and run a final consultation on the future use of the Market Place. Three options were presented: to retain a car park, to retain only disabled parking, or to close the car park completely.

At a meeting on 22nd February 2022, Councillors reviewed the results of the consultations, and voted to close the car park on the marketplace completely.

Land Ownership Dispute (2011–2016)

The Market place was subject to an ownership dispute between 2011 and 2016. Historically the market place had been controlled by the former Thetford Borough Council. When this Borough Council was abolished in 1974, most of its assets were transferred to the newly formed Breckland District Council, but some remained with Thetford Town Council. The dispute centred on what had happened to the Market Place at that time. The Town Council had been running markets and maintaining the market place for some time, but more recently discovered that the land ownership was unregistered. A registration for the title (ownership) of the Market Place was accepted by the Land Registry in 2011, without any objections being received. Subsequently though, Breckland District Council objected, claiming it was the rightful owner of the Market Place. Discussions between the two councils continued for some years and looked to be heading for a Tribunal hearing in 2016. Breckland council then unexpectedly withdrew their claim, meaning that the Town Council's registration of ownership stands.