Kirklees Council is bidding for £17m Levelling Up money for a revamped market
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A decision on whether to move forward with a new combined market in Huddersfield "will be based on the economic benefits for the town, its visitors and residents", according to Kirklees Council, which is to bid for £17m of Levelling Up money from the government.
Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) if it was committed to the new market project even if trader numbers are low and the cash doesn't materialise, the authority said "all options are open".
The 1970s Queensgate Market is to be revamped and turned into a food hall as part of the £210m "cultural heart" project, which itself is at the core of the wider £250m Huddersfield Blueprint. A new combined indoor and outdoor market is planned across town at Brook Street.
Read more:Kirklees Council reins back on Dewsbury Market revamp as building costs soar
Currently 32 stallholders operate 37 leases in Queensgate Market. Of that total 17 wish to surrender their leases and take compensation, 14 are planning to take compensation and move to a vacant shop in the town centre, and six want to relocate to a new market. On the basis of those figures the council says a relocated market is not viable.
The council has also confirmed that it will not be moving market traders into metal shipping containers, which was mooted earlier this year. A spokesperson confirmed that no containers had been bought for Huddersfield.
The decision-making Cabinet will meet next week to decide whether to accept the traders' proposal on compensation and relocation. If it agrees then the council will save almost £1m on projected set-up costs, management and services.
However there will still be a cost - as yet unknown - to tax-payers as the authority has agreed to work with traders who wish to move into vacant shops, and to give them "full support". That means cash for relocation costs will be borne by the council and not taken from compensation payments.
In response to a request from the LDRS to detail the range of compensation payments, the council said it was "commercially sensitive and confidential information" between itself and individual traders.
A spokesperson said: "If the traders’ proposal is agreed we will then work with them to identify suitable locations and assess if any refurbishment is needed. We don’t have this information yet as a decision hasn’t been made."
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said he was "very much in favour" of bringing "vivacity, bustle and excitement" to the town centre but that communication of what Huddersfield could offer needed to be improved.
He commented: "The offer needs to be out there so that we retain the businesses that we have got and reach out to other people to see that markets are low-cost options to get people started.
"If really good traders are retiring or moving on then we have to encourage new people to come [to Huddersfield]. We also have businesses that we want to maintain. Let's really ramp up the excitement of what we could do to bring back the vigour to the town."
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