Oxford Covered Market

Masterplan for Grade II-listed Covered Market in Oxford

Oxford Covered Market has been an important civic building and place of commerce since it opened in 1774, and remains an integral part of the city centre. Our masterplan sets out how the Grade II listed Market could be regenerated and improved, transformed for future generations of shoppers, whilst respecting and enhancing its unique character, heritage and history. It is one of the few large Council owned and public spaces in the city centre and therefore presents a unique opportunity to the city and its people.

City context

The masterplan sets out a long-term vision for a thriving future for the Market. This is driven by six core objectives: promoting participation and inclusivity, making the market a model for sustainability, supporting the evolution and long-term success of the Market, encouraging more people to spend more time in the market, revealing the heritage splendour of the building and strengthening the Market’s distinctiveness. The masterplan is being developed alongside a Market business case and is informed by other Market workstreams including the Leasing Strategy.

The original c.1774 Market was designed as a food market exemplar by John Gwynn, architect of Magdalen Bridge, and it has maintained its association with food ever since. It takes up a large part of the urban block at Oxford’s central crossroads and its passages and ‘courtyards’ are an extension of the surrounding urban grain. The incremental growth of the Market and the different styles it comprises form a large part of its architectural character.

John Gwynn’s design for the original market
Market activity
Photograph of the interior of the Covered Market. Henry Taunt 1909. Oxfordshire Local Studies Centre. HT11025
Historic details

Notably, the 1834 high-tech New Court is distinctive for its delicate cast iron structure, the timber roofs are quality examples of 19th century carpentry and engineering and the 1897 Fish Market creates a high quality three-bayed frontage onto Market Street.

Section through central avenue of the 1774 market

Further information


Project type
Heritage and adaptation
In progress


Oxford City Council
Gort Scott Team
Fiona Scott, Jay Gort, Susie Hyden, Sarah Cook
Marcus Beale Architects (Heritage), Max Fordham (MEP and sustainability engineers), HRW (Structural and civil engineering), Stockdale (Cost planning/ QS), Transition by Design (Public consultation), Caneparo (Transport)