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A. Introduction
B. Food Distribution and Rural and Urban Planning
C. Major Influences on Market Planning
D. The Accommodation Brief
E. Design Approach and Options
F. The Site Location and Planning Strategy Site Location
G. Utilization of Space in Markets
H. The Market Master Plan:

Market infrastructure is influenced by many factors, the most fundamental of which is the size and use of selling space and its relationship to traffic circulation and parking. This chapter reviews these issues, which include:

A. Introduction

Although the major concern of decision makers is with policy matters rather than operational issues, their involvement in the physical planning process is also essential. The aim of their involvement will be to ensure that the proposals make the best use of space. Rational decisions on market infrastructure can only be made if the decision-maker can ask the right questions. It is the intention of this chapter to guide this decision-making process.

B. Food Distribution and Rural and Urban Planning

There are four main factors relating to food supply and distribution which may ultimately influence market planning and infrastructure provision:

These economic and social pressures increasingly force local authorities and other bodies to question their attitude to the provision and control of marketing facilities. New policy measures are needed, which will produce new approaches to planning and physical arrangements.

C. Major Influences on Market Planning

Occasional Markets: Markets have always been transit points - the traditional periodic markets or country fairs (including livestock markets) being the most obvious examples. In the case of occasional markets, the sites are only temporarily used. Their most important feature is not that they provide specific infrastructure for marketing, but that they take place on the same day of the week or season, or once a year. These occasional markets are often abandoned over time or relocated to new, more appropriate, locations. As land use becomes increasingly constrained by land-value increases and the introduction of land-use zoning and planning systems, it is necessary to specifically set aside land for market development and to provide specialised infrastructure.

Truck Stops: The development of trucks at the start of the 20th century had a profound effect on the distribution of food and this process is continuing. Developing countries, since the 1960s, have been experiencing a major growth in truck traffic. Often, the trucks have effectively become mobile workplaces, with the owners not really possessing any other business assets. Examples of this are the practice of selling produce from the backs of lorries (common in the Middle East and Eastern Europe) and the practice in the USA of being able to “plug-in” refrigerated lorries when they reach a market rather than the market itself constructing expensive facilities for short-term, cold-storage.

Changing Shopping Patterns - Shopping Malls and Supermarkets: Recent decades have seen an evolution of the shopping centre from the corner and roadside “strip” shops to the mega-malls of the USA and some Western European countries (such as the hypermarkets of France). These facilities often combine one-stop retail shopping with entertainment facilities. In some cases the development of supermarkets may completely replace the traditional neighbourhood shops and retail markets. In parallel will be the decline of the wholesale markets serving the older retail suppliers.

Impact on Location and Market Layout: The dominance of the truck has meant that there has been a tendency to design (and redesign) market structures to provide adequate parking and to facilitate an uninterrupted flow of goods. This has led to a demand for larger sites, resulting in a tendency to decentralise facilities to the outskirts of cities where space is available at a lower cost. With markets, this change of emphasis away from the structure of the buildings (sometimes even to eliminate them), to the flow of produce, has resulted in the development of new design characteristics. The market buildings have tended to become transit sheds, leading to the elimination (or at least minimization) of storage facilities.

The key feature of market design has become the ease of circulation, parking and manoeuvring of vehicles. For example, where the practice is to use larger trucks, the incorporation in the design of loading bays becomes essential. How they are designed (raised or at grade) will depend on how the produce is handled within the market (mechanically or manually).

Poor Marketing Conditions: Poor conditions in markets are common. In smaller rural markets and urban street markets a standard pattern is for there to be both fixed stalls and temporary stalls. Demand for stalls in many markets is high and stall space is often limited, thus the traders spill out on to adjacent streets (sometimes to avoid fee payments). Produce is frequently displayed directly on the ground and exposed to the weather, resulting in high losses. Facilities may be limited, usually with no main market sheds and no provision of water supply or latrines. Such conditions also frequently exist in unimproved wholesale markets.

D. The Accommodation Brief

The Process: Markets are the physical expression of the marketing system -involving a complex mixture of social, management and economic factors. To prepare a master plan for market development and, subsequently, to prepare infrastructure designs and budget costs, will require an accommodation brief. This should, in principle, flow from the policy and operational reviews discussed in the previous chapters. The brief will simply restate these issues in physical terms. Initially, the preparation of the brief can be comparatively lacking in detail, but it will need to be gradually “firmed-up” during the design process. The types of information that the brief will need to contain are summarised at the end of this chapter. There are five basic steps involved in preparing a brief:

Participation: The participation of market users is critical in all these stages and one process for ensuring that this happens is described in Chapter 7. Those who will be responsible for operating and maintaining the facility should also be included. This will apply whether it is intended to modify an existing market, plan for future expansion needs or develop a brief for relocating a market to a new site. If this consultation is not done resentment is likely to occur and there may be strong resistance to market improvements or to relocating.

Data Collection: Methods of collecting information from the users include group meetings and workshops, watching how individual traders operate and asking them questions, preferably using questionnaires and, in the case of wholesale markets, asking the traders (and market visitors, such as producers and buyers) to keep a diary of their activities. As many of the methods as possible should be used to cross-check the information. It is important to remember that questions asking about market space requirements are likely to lead to inflated demands and that the answers to direct questions on rents and charges are unlikely to be realistic. It is important to have some form of site survey plan available to discuss possible development options.

E. Design Approach and Options

In preparing a development it is likely that two basic situations will need to be considered:

Facilities at existing sites

In many cases the rehabilitation of existing markets is required. This would be done by:

Facilities at a new location

If an existing site becomes unsuitable or there is a need to create a completely new facility, this could be done by:

Providing new market facilities creates a number of design problems. A major consideration will be the potential resistance by traders to change and to moving to a new location. Other issues may also need to be resolved, including: (i) the potential competition between markets and other distribution channels; (ii) the possibility of constructing facilities that are too large; (iii) the type of institutional controls that will be appropriate for the new location; and (iv) the issue of long-term viability of the market related to city and hinterland size. This is particularly relevant with new wholesale markets and in a city with a population of less than half a million a wholesale market is unlikely to be viable.

Planning and Design Alternatives: Usually the basic design approach is not immediately obvious and a project may need to consider several alternatives and to evaluate which one is preferable. The choice between modifying an existing facility or constructing a new one should not be based on expediency or ill-informed decisions. It is necessary to approach the problem by thinking clearly about what the facility has to do in order to offer solutions which would function at the lowest cost and with the simplest form. The development of the options should also take account of possible socioeconomic changes and any potential environmental impact (such as pollution and noise impact). Many options are likely to be available and there is unlikely to be one correct solution. However, in choosing options, care is necessary to ensure that there is no over-design of physical facilities. The facilities will have a limited life span (say 25 years) and will inevitably be subject to frequent change.

F. The Site Location and Planning Strategy Site Location

The choice of location of any market is a key decision, particularly for urban wholesale markets. The question of location is closely bound up with that of transport, as markets are essentially only transit stops. Transportation changes and evolving road networks will significantly influence whether it is still viable for a market to remain in its present location or whether a new site should be sought. The types of transport changes which will have an impact are:

The preferred location for markets is one with good access to a main road system and with compatible adjacent land uses (such as catering and agribusiness industries). Urban retail markets must be convenient for customers, preferably within walking distance of lower-income housing areas. These location requirements will need to be balanced against other factors such as the suitability of the site in terms of its cost, present ownership, size, suitability for construction and availability of services. Optimum site locations will reduce the financial costs of transportation for both sellers and buyers, lowering margins, and ultimately decreasing the costs to consumers. In addition, the reduced costs also have an economic and environmental impact in creating the opportunity for energy savings and for reducing potential air and noise pollution.

Internal Traffic Flows and Congestion

Congestion is often the main factor influencing the need for market improvements. Problems often occur where access is limited to only one operating entry and exit and where the market authority uses the gate to control entry in order to maximise revenues. If the lead-in length of the internal access road is also very short and the parking of vehicles is not rigorously controlled, congestion is inevitable. Altering the road pattern to work on the basis of a one-way system and extending or changing market trading hours may solve the problem, but this will not help if the parking of vehicles inside the market is uncontrolled and there is a lack of traffic management.

Market Lay-out

Market operations are influenced by management methods and by the physical lay-out. They need to achieve:

G. Utilization of Space in Markets

The optimum use of space in markets is one of the keys to their success. The fundamental design decision relates to determining the “core” space of the market, i.e. the area in which sales occur. This area includes both the area occupied by the traders and the local circulation area needed to reach these stalls or premises. This area may be totally indoors or may be a combination of covered space (such as a stall), combined with external gangways or access platforms. The available sales space will have a direct relationship on the rents that can be charged and will affect the market’s throughput. In addition to the sales space, allowance also has to be made for ancillary and supporting services, such as administrative offices and banks. This process of calculating space requirements is described below.

Market throughput and traffic volumes

1. Using estimates of consumption, it is possible to obtain an indication (in tons) of the level of existing and future trade:

a) Start with the estimated annual total consumption (from Box 4) for target dates in 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years

b) Subtract produce by-passing the market (i.e. passing through competing markets or other marketing channels.

c) The total of these figures is the existing market throughput (if available, check figures against records of arrivals at the market).

d) Make adjustments for population growth and changes in marketing patterns for target dates in 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years.

e) Estimate total future market throughput for target dates (these figures can be adopted as upper limits for future planning purposes).

2. Daily traffic levels for existing incoming traffic may be available from records or alternatively can be estimated by dividing the total wholesale market throughput by the average load per vehicle and number of trading days in a year.

Turnover: Annual turnover (in metric tons per square metre of the total market sales area) is one of the main criteria used in the design of all markets. To be able to apply this parameter, the key issue in the design of a market is to understand its throughput (expressed in tons per day, week, month or year) and to relate this figure to the utilization of space. On the basis of the estimates of supply, demand and consumption (see Box 5) the next step in the design process is to estimate the total produce that is going through the market (see Box 6). The throughput can then be used to estimate total requirements for covered space and the number of parking spaces required for incoming and outgoing vehicles.

Space Use: The theoretical turnover per square metre of covered space is in the range of 20 to 30 tons/square metre covered space for wholesale markets, 15 to 20 tons/square metre for assembly markets and 5 to 10 tons/square metre for rural primary and urban retail markets. These figures need to be used with some caution as they apply only to the areas used for sales and ancillary uses. Space utilization is also influenced by the type of packaging used as this determines the quantity of produce which can be stacked on a given area. The standards take no account of the fact that, with rural markets, sales may occur outside the periphery of the market and that with wholesale markets the majority of the actual display and sales may occur in the parking areas immediately in front of the units, which can reduce the net turnover per square metre by 50-75 percent. Details of typical space standards are illustrated in Box 7.

Calculating Areas: Based on the space standards given in Box 7 the sequence for calculating the area of buildings and the overall site, for both an existing and a new market, is as follows:

1. Divide the projected annual market throughput (in tons) for a number of target years by the sales space standard in tons per square metre/per annum to obtain the total sales space requirements (covered and open). Adjust the figure to take account of different floor levels. This sales space figure, less the space used for local pedestrian circulation, is the area on which the stall rent or lease premium costs will be applied (the net lettable space). This figure will normally equate to units of around 2 - 4 square metres per trader in small retail markets and an average of around 100 square metres per trader in wholesale markets. The sales space projections should be compared to information on the existing or projected number of traders, to ensure that enough accommodation is being provided.

2. The next step is to add the following special uses to the total sales space requirements:

3. The total of these figures is the net usable space. Some of the special uses are likely to be part of the market’s public provision, whilst others would be more efficiently provided by the private sector.

4. An allowance should then be added for the general pedestrian circulation, such as main walkways, of around 10 percent, which produces the total usable space.

5. Normally, a further allowance of 5 percent of the total usable space should be made for the area that the building structure and infill walls will occupy and to take account of any irregularities in the shape of the site (sometimes termed the “fit factor”). With very narrow sites or irregular shapes the use of space will be more inefficient and an additional 10 percent may need to be added. Above this total figure (say 15 - 20 percent) the additional costs that it imposes are likely to result in an inefficient market.

6. The grand total of these figures will be the gross market area. This will normally correspond to the building area (although with smaller retail markets it will also include some of the external public circulation area). For an existing market this figure can be compared to the actual provision to see whether it is adequate and for a new market it can be used to determine the area needed.

Common market sales space turnover standards

Type of market

Annual throughput

(tons per m2/annum)

Rural fruit and vegetable open market

average of 5 tons

Rural fruit and vegetable all-year assembly market

20 - 25 tons

Seasonal assembly market (3 - 4 month peak)

15 - 20 tons

Urban fruit and vegetable open market

5 -10 tons

Urban fruit and vegetable covered retail market

15 - 20 tons

Combined urban market (fruit, vegetables, fish, meat)

10 - 15 tons

Semi-wholesale fish, poultry, egg or meat market

5 - 15 tons

Semi-wholesale retail grain, potato or onion market

10 -15 tons

General urban wholesale market

20 - 30 tons

Source: FAO (1991). Wholesale markets: planning and design manual. FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin No. 90 and FAO (1995). Retail markets planning guide. FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin No. 121.

Site Size: The overall site area required to accommodate the covered space should be in the ratio of between 1: 4 and 1: 3. This would mean that for every square metre of covered sales space an additional three to four square metres of site would be required. Exceptionally, this factor can be reduced to 1:2.5 if the site area is very limited and increased to 1: 5 if much of the trading is

likely to be undertaken in the open. The overall site area in square metres can thus be derived by multiplying the gross market area by a factor of 2.5 to 5 to allow for traffic circulation, parking areas and site landscaping. Decisions on road design, carriageway widths, the size of parking bays and sidewalk widths will be fundamental in creating an economic layout which achieves the turnover standard.

Time Perspective: The projected annual market throughput is for a specific point in time. An issue that is always difficult to deal with is how to choose the right time perspective for the project and how to deal with future expansion needs. The luxury of having a site that will allow for very long-term expansion is rare and in most cases, it is not economic to build all the accommodation at once. A rational approach would be to make the overall projections for the site area based on the expected economic life of the buildings (usually 20-25 years) and then to phase the construction so that buildings are generally fully utilised at all times.

The initial phase may be to construct premises suitable for, say, ten years. The space standard adopted for the sales space should reflect present needs and also make some allowance for future greater efficiency in use. A tight fit is preferable to leaving large areas under-utilised and, consequently, not rented-out. Thus, the allocation of space within a market has to cope with its present status (or, if a new market, with a first phase of development) as well as longer term needs. Initially only part of the market premises may be required. However, if the space occupied is concentrated in one area it may result in congestion. Therefore, the leasing policy should ensure that the fullest use is made of all the developed market area, but not cause short-term congestion nor prevent flexibility in accommodating needs of future tenants.

H. The Market Master Plan:

The next step will be to prepare preliminary master plans for each option that needs to be evaluated. In addition to the plans, the proposed land uses on the site should be tabulated as this will form the basis of the budget estimates and phasing. A check list of the basic questions to be considered in preparing plans is contained in Box 8.

Questions to be considered in designing a market master plan

  • does the accommodation brief and plans developed from it create an attractive and comfortable environment which will allow the market to compete with other marketing outlets?
  • does the accommodation brief and plans reflect the perceived needs of the market users?
  • has a preliminary estimate been made of the total number of traders and area of sales space required, based on the projected turnover of the market and the likely variation in daily turnover?
  • has account been taken of the different uses (i.e. fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, grains, dairy products, clothing, household goods, etc.)
  • has a decision been made, for each different type of user, on the distribution between open and covered spaces, based on an assumed (for new markets) or observed (for existing markets ) pattern of use (e.g. 90 percent open spaces in a weekly rural or assembly market, 100 percent under cover in a central urban market)
    is the market appropriate to the income and expenditure habits of the existing and potential users?
  • does the plan reflect the market’s overall management system and take account of existing facilities?
  • are financial constraints under which the plan will have to operate recognised?
  • have minimum development standards been applied (e.g. health, safety and environmental standards)?
  • does the plan provide a good layout in relation to climate, site geometry, optimum stall size and simple circulation patterns?
  • does it provide sufficient space for vehicle parking, including cycles and motorcycles?
  • does the plan phase the development to take account of immediate urgent requirements and longer-term needs?
  • have the proposals been discussed with traders to ensure their acceptability?

Market Congestion: Congestion within a market and the types of vehicles delivering and collecting produce will have a significant impact on a market’s efficiency. Wholesale markets tend to have much higher turnovers in relation to their sales space because of the larger quantities handled per trader and more effective management system of sales space and traffic.

Impact of changing marketing patterns: As alternative marketing channels develop, it is unlikely that practices such as the auctioning of truckloads of low-value produce will continue to be undertaken within a market area. Producers are likely to develop direct links to retailers. The establishment of farmers’ markets and the gradual development of supermarket chains will also have a significant impact on produce flow and future retailing patterns. The market master plan should attempt to foresee and accommodate such changes. It is sensible, therefore, to be conservative in making the estimate of sales space needed when there is already a perceived change occurring in the system. However, care should be taken not to provide insufficient parking areas, which could lead to congestion and may itself precipitate a decline in the use of the wholesale or retail market facility.

Desirable Market Characteristics: The main factors which should be taken into account when improving an existing market or designing a new one are as follows:


The Site

General Requirements

Individual Users’ Requirements

Evaluation and Follow-Up Issues (see Chapters 6 and 7)

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