Hull Fruit Market is an iconic part of the city of Hull, and as it turns out, almost unique in the UK. It has the potential to be redeveloped, occupied, providing a focus for the creative and media folk, and businesses in Hull.
Last Thursday, organised by Hull Forward, there was a superb turn out for a meeting that is going to start the ball rolling, looking at the opportunities for businesses in the creative and (digital) media space. Over 120 people came to the Fruit Market to listen, express their views and ideas about what could, and what should happen in the future.
The event was hosted by Toby Hyam from Creative Space Management, who did an excellent job of taking us through the possibilities, showing us the individual spaces available throughout the Fruit Market, and then putting us into working groups (over 10).
These groups had 45 minutes (yes, not much time at all!) to start to come up with ideas about how the spaces could be used when the development starts, who they would be for, how would they work and of course, how to make them sustainable. Once the time was up, a spokesperson fed back the group’s findings to everyone else which enabled us all to get an understanding of the huge scope and potential of what should happen.
We spoke to Toby after the event to get his thoughts about the purpose of the meeting, what needs to happen, and projects happening right now which we should aspire to:[audio:https://www.hulldigital.co.uk/wp-content/audio/Toby Hyam Interview Fruit Market 24th Sept 09.mp3]
(We would have used Audioboo but no 3G signal and no wifi!).
The attendees came from all manner of industries and groups: artists, Hull College, Hull Council, digital people, connectivity specialists, sculptors, locals and many more. There seemed to the start of a concensus around the development of the area:
- Community focused
- Spaces to attract people into the area / street
- Spaces for art installations
- Co-working spaces
- Open hours as long as possible, e.g. 6am – 10pm
- Link events to ensure people stay in the area once they get here
There did seem to be a focus on art, and “show spaces”, which are important, but there are areas which we think must be also present for sustainable success:
- Business spaces, and no not big corporates, but spaces for creative and new media companies / startups to encourage the development of technology, connectivity, web applications and design. There must be viable businesses generating revenue, attracting clients and spreading WOM (word of mouth)
- Vibrant restaurants and cafes, similar to Princess Avenue
- Security and excellent lighting, so it feels and IS safe
- Bicycle friendly features built in to encourage green transport – sheltered secure areas for storage and cycle lanes (looks like the train station is getting a cycle upgrade soon)
- Perhaps the city’s first Streetcar venue
- Next generation broadband access
- Community Wifi available for all (just be careful with your laptop security!)
- Zero tolerance for litter, cigarette butts etc
- Strong financial support and urgency / pace from the Council and Hull Forward
All of these will go towards making the Fruit Market a place in the city where ideas, creativity and community can grow, can connect and we hope, become THE destination of choice for many people, whether for business or pleasure.
So, what do you think? What must happen? What are the pitfalls and watch outs? It’s vital that the digital community give their feedback, and we will be ensuring that we have a close dialogue with the project stakeholders going forwards.