A popular cake shop at the Covered Market is leaving after 38 years, after bosses blamed traffic conditions in Oxford.

The Cake Shop in the historic market will close on May 11 and reopen in new premises in Witney on May 18.

Over the years the shop has become a favourite with visitors to the market who love to take photos of its specially designed cakes - and buy them.

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But bosses say the location is no longer the best place for them to sell their cakes and added that traffic restrictions were making it difficult for them to operate.

A spokesman for The Cake Shop said: "We are relocating to a larger, bright new space at 3 Mill Walk in the vibrant town of Witney with an enhanced bakery offering.

Oxford Mail: The Cake Shop in Oxford"Our new location will have free parking outside our front door, is easily accessible from Oxford, and will have an expanded range of fresh artisan breads, pastries and bespoke cakes available daily."

As part of the new operation The Cake Shop is linking up with The Heritage Bakery " to broaden its offering".

The owners said a future in The Covered Market was not viable, "as it does not offer traders of our type the same benefits as it did in years past". 

Oxford Mail: The Cake Shop in OxfordThe spokesman added: "We have experienced problems with access, challenges around the zero emission zone, excessive structural issues, and high levels of rent relative to footfall.

"Unfortunately, this part of Oxford no longer represents good value for money.

"While the council may claim footfall is strong, this is falsely representative for businesses of our nature.

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"It is evident to us that the footfall in the market is driven towards to the take and go food vendors or cafe-type businesses.

Oxford Mail: The Cake Shop in Oxford"The council masterplan is driving away many of the original traditional vendors."

Tom Bridgman, Oxford City Council's executive director of development, said he was sorry to see The Cake Shop go.

He added: "They have been very popular and there was always a crowd pressed up against the window to see their artistry.

"The owner has told us that they want to consolidate their businesses and move into larger premises in Witney.

"We really wanted the The Cake Shop to stay in the Covered Market, but, sadly, we don't have a unit large enough for their needs.

Oxford Mail: The Cake Shop in Oxford"We are pleased that they are staying in Oxfordshire and wish them all the best for the future.

"We are already searching for a new trader, including those offering a similar use, to fill the gap and join the Covered Market family."

It is not the first time a long-serving business has relocated out of Oxford after struggling to cope with traffic restrictions.

In January Aldens, the butchers in Osney Mead, cited "traffic chaos" as one reason for relocating its wholesale business to Bicester.

Oxford Mail: The Cake Shop in OxfordThe city council, the market landlord, pointed out that footfall in the market has increased in recent years.

In the first two months of 2024, the market had 600,774 visitors compared to 534,714 in 2023, and 543,161 before the pandemic in 2019.

During the past year the council and some traders have been trialling later opening hours - until 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

About £6.8m is being invested in the market, to improved its entrances, provide larger seating areas inside, and a new seating area outside in Market Street.

The council added that it deliberately kept rent levels in the market lower than average rent per square feet in the city centre "in order to foster small and independent businesses".

Sushi Bowl opened in the market on April 20 and another new business is expected to open soon.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.