Councillors have given the go-ahead to plans to demolish Holmfirth Market Hall as part of a wider £3.9 million scheme to “re-purpose” the town centre.
The market hall, between Huddersfield Road and Hollowgate, will be flattened to extend the existing adjacent car park to create a bigger combined car park and events space.
The market hall has been under threat of closure since 2018 when Kirklees Council decided it was no longer viable.
The market, held twice a week, remained open while a new operator was found. Late last year Holmfirth Forward was given a licence to operate the market and a new venue or location is currently being sought.
The market hall scheme – part of the wider, and controversial, Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan – will see the current 24-space car park replaced with a re-designed car park with 26 parking bays. The car park will double as a public events space.
A pedestrian bridge over the River Holme will also be widened to three metres and there will be improved pedestrian access from Huddersfield Road and the town centre.
Councillors – and town centre businesses – were split over the scheme. Speaking at a meeting of the Huddersfield area planning committee, veteran Tory councillor Donald Firth, who had a business in Holmfirth for 50 years, said: “If all this goes forward it will ruin Holmfirth and people will move out.
“You are going to make (Holmfirth) into a museum and at the end of the day all the good shops will have gone.”
Fellow Conservative Clr Nigel Patrick said the market hall could still be viable and demolishing it to create a car park made no sense.
“It will very probably be the most expensive car park ever built in Kirklees,” he said.
Clr Patrick said there was concern among town centre traders about the wider Town Centre Access Plan, particularly changes in Victoria Street. He said the new pay-and-display car park was intended to replace spaces lost in Victoria Street but that would mean a shortage of parking in the town for blue badge holders.
Clr Paul Davies, the council’s Cabinet member for corporate, said there had been extensive public consultation since the closure decision was made in 2018.
“There are some businesses that are unhappy but others say it is the best thing happening to the town. It shows we as a council are prepared to invest in Holmfirth,” he said.
“Please don’t get the illusion that this is us against the business community – far from it. We want to redress the balance between pedestrians and vehicles and encourage people to stay longer.
“It’s a key investment and a sign of what we want to do for the town.”
The committee approved the plans on a vote of 8-3 with one abstention.