The transformation of the former Queensgate Market building into a new food hall and library will be the first project delivered under Kirklees Council’s £210 million Cultural Heart regeneration.

Though planning permission has yet to be approved, the council has set out some timescales for the scheme.

The Cultural Heart includes: a new food hall and library in an extended Queensgate Market building; a new 2,200-capacity events venue with 350-space multi-storey car park on the site of the demolished Market Hall multi-storey; a new museum in the current library building; and a new-build art gallery in Queen Street. There will be a public events space outside the new library and a town park around the old Piazza area.

Queensgate Market closed down at the end of October and is being cleared out and the council has now revealed that the food hall and library – and the public events space outside – will be the first part of the scheme to be built.

Survey and site preparation works will take place in 2023 with construction set to start in Spring 2024 for completion in Spring 2026.

The council originally planned to build the whole scheme at the same time – and that might still be the case – but the council is taking a prudent and pragmatic approach in the face of economic challenges.

The council says the delivery plan it has “accounts for the current financial climate and constraints being faced by local authorities up and down the country.”

Earlier this year council leader Shabir Pandor said the whole Cultural Heart scheme would be completed in 2026 and, while the project may now take place in phases, that 2026 date hasn’t yet slipped and that remains the ambition. Here’s what Clr Pandor said in June.

Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for regeneration, said the council was being pragmatic in the face of changing economic circumstances and there was flexibility should be scheme need to be phased or designs tweaked.

He said the scheme was “ambitious and sensible” and added: “It is no secret that the current financial situation is putting pressure on us as a council and that we are having to make some tough decisions but investment in our towns and villages cannot be allowed to simply stall.

“Developments like this are vital if our towns are to not just survive but thrive once again. The gateway system we have used for moving the Cultural Heart forward means that we have looked carefully at every penny, every step of the way. That will continue for the life of the project to ensure we get value for money for our residents.

The events space outside the new library

“This first phase of delivery means some of the key elements will become a reality and start benefitting residents, businesses and visitors a lot sooner than if we were to try to deliver such a mammoth project in one.

“We will be working on the delivery of phase one and finalising the rest of the delivery plan in the coming weeks and months.

“Times are tough but they will get better and we need to be ready to benefit from the economic recovery that will come.

“These much-needed improvements to the town centre will put us in the best possible position to take full advantage of that recovery for the good of the people of Kirklees.”