IT was hailed as a “milestone in the transformation of Wakefield” when it opened in 2008, but the city’s Market Hall is now set to be demolished after councillors approved plans to move traders out.
The £3m market, designed by leading architect David Adjaye, was part of the major regeneration of the city over recent years, which included Trinity Walk shopping centre, Merchant Gate, the Waterfront, and the Hepworth Wakefield.
But it was beset with problems, and last year lost Wakefield Council £193,000.
In February, the council revealed that the owners of Trinity Walk, Sovereign Land, had made an offer to buy the indoor market hall and redevelop it into a cinema and restaurant units.
Yesterday members of the council’s Cabinet approved pushing ahead with the plan to relocate outdoor traders from the current site on Union Street to a new market space on the Cathedral Precinct, creating a link between existing shops on the precinct and The Ridings Shopping Centre with Trinity Walk, which the council says will “improve the vibrancy and viability of the city centre.”
Talks are ongoing with The Ridings about relocating indoor traders in the centre, creating a “bespoke indoor market” like those found at Sheffield’s Crystal Peaks and Victoria Centre in Nottingham.
Coun Denise Jeffrey, the council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Skills said: “We believe this is the right thing to do – for the market traders, for the city and for the people of the wider district. We are committed to creating a thriving and vibrant market to enhance Wakefield’s shopping and leisure experience. Linking the two established shopping centres by relocating the market is a positive move.”
The plan was initially met with opposition, with a 10,000 signature petition against the proposal, but it did receive support from traders. Stallholder Mark Venables has worked on Wakefield Market since 1996, moving from the old market hall.
Mr Venables, of Daily Produce Ltd, said he was “all for” the move after a series of problems, including flooring having to be relaid and stalls repositioned, meant custom haemorrhaged
He said: “When we first moved over here, the monstrosity they built for us was diabolical. Within the first month we lost half the trade, customers found somewhere else to go,
“I can’t wait for the move. A traditional looking market stall will do wonders.”
One of the criticisms outdoor treaders made was that they would lose storage space correctly offered at the indoor market.
Mr Venables has already been preparing for the move, renting a shop on nearby Brook Street to use as a warehouse and shop.
He added: “Being situated between Trinity Walk and The Ridings will mean we’ll benefit from the footfall. It’s the right decision.”
• WHEN the David Adjaye-designed market hall open in June 2008, it was supposed to transform shopping in the city.
But the £3m development was beset with problems from the opening.
It was planned to open alongside the Trinity Walk shopping centre development, which itself ran into delays after the original developer collapsed in 2009.
Traders quit weeks after the market opened and thousands of pounds was spent on consultants to try to turn the market around. The food hall was closed for more than a year through environmental problems and the outdoor market had to be re-paved, disrupting trade.