THE FATE of Wakefield’s £3m under-threat market hall will be decided by council leaders next week.
Wakefield Council revealed in February that the owners of the nearby Trinity Walk shopping centre, Sovereign Land, had made an offer to buy the indoor market hall and redevelop it into a cinema and restaurant units.
Furious traders organised a petition, gaining more than 10,000 signatures opposing the plan, but a report to be considered by the council’s cabinet members on Tuesday recommends pushing ahead.
Plans include relocating outdoor traders to a new market space on Cathedral Precinct, creating a link between existing shops on the precinct with Trinity Walk, which the report says will “improve the vibrancy and viability of the city centre.”
Indoor traders could also find a new home in The Ridings shopping centre, creating a “bespoke indoor market” like those found at Sheffield’s Crystal Peaks and Victoria Centre in Nottingham. Traders would also be given support to stay in the city.
The report also reveals that the council only stands to make an estimated £236,000 from the sell-off, after demolition and relocation costs for both the indoor and outdoor markets.
But it says relocation costs for the outdoor market, estimated at £395,000, would be reaped back as the market comes back into profit. Last year the market, which opened in 2008, ran at a loss of £193,000.
Coun Denise Jeffery, the council’s cabinet member for economic growth and skills, said it was confident the proposals would result in better markets.
She said: “When we carried out a trial market on the precinct some traders reported their takings being up by 50 per cent, so we know this site has great potential.
“The proposed redevelopment of the current market site would also bring significant investment into the city, and the research shows that people would be more likely to come into the city centre if a new cinema and restaurants were developed.”
The results of consultation with traders, the public, and key retail bodies are also included in the report. It said t hat although most traders were initially against the proposal, they see The Ridings as “a realistic and potentially positive alternative.”
But outdoors traders raised concerns about lack of storage at a new precinct market.
The report also said that public opposition to the plan was mostly driven by opposition to the cinema, rather than changing the market.
Coun Jeffery added: “We are continuing our discussions with market traders to ensure they are listened to and supported during this process, but believe selling the current site provides the right solution for the people of the city.”