Queensgate Market could become a new ‘food court’ with an events venue for up to 3,000 people built alongside.
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet has agreed the closure of Queensgate Market in August with traders moving into converted shipping containers on the streets or to nearby empty shops.
More details of the council’s plans for the £210 million Cultural Heart have been revealed as an official letter has been submitted to the planning authority. It is said to be the first step towards submitting a formal planning application.
On the day the Cabinet approved plans to shut Queensgate Market, the council offered a new glimpse into what the Cultural Heart may look like.
The Cultural Heart is 7.87 acres of the town centre around the Piazza which currently consists of Queensgate Market, Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery, the Piazza shopping centre and the site of the now-demolished Market Hall multi-storey car park.
The council has plans to demolish the Piazza centre and create an urban park. Previously it was thought the library and art gallery would be moved into Queensgate Market but that has now changed.
The latest plans would see the market hall become a food court with what is described as a new “events space” accommodating between 2,500 and 3,000 people built alongside.
A new museum and art gallery could be located within the existing library building with an extension providing additional gallery space.
A new multi-storey car park with 500 spaces will also be built and there will be new retail outlets, bars and restaurants. The urban park and outdoor events space would be big enough for around 3,000 people.
A design scheme is currently underway but the council says retention and re-use of the listed buildings on the site – the market hall and library – is key to keeping Huddersfield’s cultural heritage at the centre of the project.
The parade of shops within the Piazza will be demolished along with retail units on Princess Alexandra Walk. What the council says are “elements of the market hall” will also be demolished.
The council plans to merge the indoor and outdoor markets on the site of the existing outdoor market but until that is ready the former Queensgate traders will have a temporary relocation in the town centre. That could be three years at least.
No location has been decided but traders have been told it’s likely to be the Market Place end of New Street.
Most traders will be given a converted shipping container on the street while others may move into empty shops. The idea, however, is to keep traders clustered together so that the market remains intact.
Traders are generally supportive of the move as footfall at Queensgate Market has reduced since the car park was demolished.
Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said the council had worked closely with market traders and added: “It is really important that we support them and keep them at the centre of our retail offer.”
Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet member for regeneration, described the Cultural Heart as a “vibrant and dynamic space for visitors of all ages to gather and enjoy all of the art, culture and music that will be found here.”
He added: “Town centres need to change and our forward-looking plans for Huddersfield are readying the town to be able to adapt and respond to any challenges that come our way.
“We have absolute confidence that this scheme will transform our town centre and create something truly unique that won’t just be enjoyed by local people but will attract visitors from far and wide.”