AROUND 95 per cent of shoppers reckon that having a market in Winchester’s High Street is a good thing.

The results came from a Tourism South East (TSE) survey, which spoke to more than 200 locals and visitors.

Civic chiefs also heard this week that there was now a waiting list of traders who wanted stalls.

Council and business chiefs met at Winchester Guildhall on Tuesday to discuss the survey.

The findings were presented by Parves Khan of Eastleigh-based TSE Research Services.

She said they asked if the market made visiting Winchester more enjoyable and 94 per cent of residents and 95 per cent of visitors agreed.

“Clearly people enjoy the market while they’re here,” she said.

It comes after some existing High Street shops raised concerns last summer about moving the market.

It had been based in Middle Brook Street and there were complaints of overcrowding in the new location.

Market manager Paul Lewis told Tuesday’s meeting that stalls were now spread further along the High Street.

As a result there was more space between pitches, and deliveries to nearby shops were no longer disrupted, he said.

He added that traders were queuing to come to Winchester, compared to lots of empty pitches 12 months ago.

He said: “I run markets in Guildford, Southampton and Basingstoke, and Winchester is the one they all want to come to.”

Chris Turner, executive director of Winchester Business Improvement District, said High Street footfall was rising.

He said: “What we didn’t know is whether more people were coming to the High Street but then didn’t like what they were finding, but now we know that isn’t the case.”

City council leader Cllr George Beckett said the authority received several complaints after opening the High Street to market traders.

For that reason they would still monitor the issue, despite the survey’s ringing endorsement.

He added that the council would investigate if a few pitches could go in The Square once the re-paving there is complete.

In the long term, Cllr Beckett said the market would move to The Broadway as part of the Silver Hill Renaissance.

BID members are hoping to meet the project architects, Allies and Morrison, for an update in April.

After the meeting, Winchester MP Steve Brine said: “It seems the public have spoken about the market and done so very clearly.

“An evidence based approach is exactly what was called for from the council and is important in taking local people with them.

“I am glad they will keep this under review and feel sure residents with views either way on the issue will continue to make them known.”