How the regeneration of Hull’s Fruit Market led to transformation of derelict street into hub for independent businesses

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The transformation of a former fruit market into a growing urban village has led to the launch of 20 new businesses and the creation of 250 jobs in the project’s retail and leisure district.

Footfall around Humber Street in Hull, is up 12 per cent year on year following the area’s increase in activity.

Bert's Pizza and Gelato in Hull's Fruit Market is one of 20 new businesses in the Humber Street area.

Bert's Pizza and Gelato in Hull's Fruit Market is one of 20 new businesses in the Humber Street area.

Hundreds more jobs have been created in the wider Fruit Market area, which has developed into a centre for creative and tech talent as part of the overall £80m project.

The revival of Humber Street also enabled businesses that opened as temporary ventures before the regeneration drive to have a sustainable future as part of the bustling waterfront district.

The Fruit Market community now features independent businesses including a gym, a bridal boutique, a vintage clothing store, a convenience store full of local produce, Hull’s first gin bar and distillery and a range of diverse restaurants, including Bert’s Pizza and Gelato.

The regeneration has also created opportunities for Hull’s artistic community through the creation of Juice Studios on the first floor of 61-63 Humber Street, which has undergone a £1.2m redevelopment to make it a thriving centre for the creative arts.

Juice Studios is a vibrant space for Hull’s creative community, featuring a combination of dedicated and shared working spaces for creatives working in disciplines including printmaking, contemporary art, textiles and fashion design.

In addition, the Fruit Market has become a regular venue for pop-up artistic and cultural events, workshops, exhibitions and performances, many staged in the former Humber Fruit Brokers building at 66-68 Humber Street, which is provided free of charge to support community groups.

These cultural events have included a series of family-friendly productions.

A musical called The Lightless Pumpkin, which will see a Halloween-themed parade make its way along Humber Street, is scheduled for November during half term.

Spanish restaurant Ambiente Tapas was one of the first new businesses to open as the revival began.

General manager Robert Wood said: “We’ve watched the Fruit Market grow into a vibrant area, with a great atmosphere both in the evening and during the day.

“There’s been lots of investment from other independent businesses who share the vision of making the Fruit Market the go-to place in Hull.”

He added: “The regeneration is really bearing fruit now and we’re seeing a steady increase in footfall as more businesses open along the street. It’s a very exciting time.”

The rejuvenation of the waterfront district is being led by Wykeland Beal, the regeneration company formed by commercial developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, as part of the Fruit Market joint venture with Hull City Council.

In all, almost £8m has been invested by the Fruit Market in the repair, restoration and conversion of historic former fruit and vegetable warehouses as well as in new buildings to replace structures that could not be saved in and around Humber Street.