Dating from 1852. the Market Hall was built to trade produce , brought up the Tamar fresh for the town of Devonport.
It thrived as a market up until 1945 when, following WWII, the Dockyard enclave expanded. With the once vibrant Market Hall now inside the dockyard wall. It was no longer able to serve as a public market so much like the buildings at Royal William Yard, it was used as a store for naval equipment and machinery.
In 1999, despite still being hidden behind the dockyard wall, English Heritage designated the Market Hall as a Grade II listed building, marking its importance and protecting its future.
The Masterplan for Devonport published in 2001 set out a vision for the future of the neighbourhood which started to become a reality in 2005 when parts of Devonport formerly in the dockyard enclave were handed back as part of the New Deal for Communities programme and the dockyard wall coming down in 2006.
The Market Hall was handed over to the Homes and Communities Agency along with the surrounding land reclaimed from the dockyard. While the land was parcelled up and handed over to housing developers, the Market Hall remained dormant. To ensure the disused building remained safe and watertight, housebuilder Redrow carried out around £500,000 of works to the Market Hall and in particular the clock tower, whilst working on building the houses that surround it.
Nearby at Devonport Guildhall RIO took on the renovation of the Grade I listed building in 2007 as part of the regeneration of Devonport, paving the way for further renovation, investment and development. Once the Guildhall was reopened in 2010 and the Column restored in 2013, attention soon turned to the Market Hall with city figures seeking a solution to the key redundant building.
Using their expertise from renovating and reopening Devonport Guildhall and Column RIO - The Real Ideas Organisation - worked with i-DAT at Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council, City College Plymouth and six of the brightest young tech companies in the area to come up with a business plan to bring the building back into use.
In December 2013 plans were unveiled to transform the Market Hall into a digital creative hub - providing cutting edge research, learning, laboratory and event space as well as a visitor offer - recapturing Devonport place as an international leader in technical innovation. The building was transferred to the City Council in 2014 along with £2.5 million dowry for its regeneration. The Council then signed the funding deal with RIO in 2015 pledging the £2.5million dowry, plus an additional £500,000 of Council investment to get the £4.5million project underway.
Under the new plan the Market Hall with offer a range of digital activity for schools, young people, further and higher education, businesses, visitor and residents. The Digital Futures Programme was launched in 2015 to give people a taster of the kind of activity that will be on offer once the building is open, from game development and app design through to immersive 360 degree cinema and Oculus Rift technology.
Planning permission for the Market Hall is due to for Spring 2016, seeking approval to renovate the existing structure and add a new two story extension to the east end. RIO has already assembled a design team, including Le Page architects who worked on the Devonport Guildhall renovation, to see the project through to completion.
Works should start on site later this year, with the first phase of the project being completed late 2017.
During the build phase there will be continue to be plenty of opportunities to get into digital as RIO builds the programme of activity, ready to populate the Market Hall once it is open.
If you're interested in finding out more about the Market Hall and all of the digital activity and opportunity it will bring please visit www.themarkethall.co.uk