PONTYPOOL Market has the potential to be “great” say shoppers as the £2.3million refurbishment nears completion.

The project, which launched a year ago, aims to update the Grade II-listed building by making it a 'brighter and more vibrant' shopping location.

It is hoped the market will form the centre of a buzzing Pontypool town centre, in line with the '21st century Pontypool' Torfaen council is looking to advance with funding from the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme.

Frequent market shopper, Kath Lapping, who ran a baby wear stall in the market for ten years until 1995, said it was significantly “nicer and cleaner”.

She added: “I hope that people will take up the opportunity to shop there as an alternative to the high street as the market has great potential if it can attract new traders.”

Three new traders have already taken up the opportunity to bag a stall.

Friends, Gemma Pugh, 35, and Fiona Gallear, 53, decided to run their separate businesses, Frankie Rose Clothes and Fiona’s Tutus & Bows, from one stall, while a former ice cream van driver, David Norman, 59, has opened Dave’s Ices, and husband and wife team, Adrian and Kathleen Snelgrove, have opened the stall Hooks and Lines, which sells fishing tackle and equipment, and field sport accessories.

Mr Norman said he had already had a very good response from the public.

Market supervisor Sharon Hutchinson said the refurbishment has given the market a "new lease of life".

“It is fantastic to see the new traders in place and I know that they are already proving a hit with visitors to the market," she said.

"We are already seeing a surge in interest from new traders, and will be announcing another new business shortly.”

It marks a considerable shift in attitude towards the market, where the refurbishment was originally met by apprehension.

Trader, and Pontypool councillor, Gaynor James called it “fabulous”.

She added: “It was worth the wait and I can’t wait for it to be fully open.

“I hope that any shoppers who stopped calling in during the refurbishment will come back as they will be impressed.”