Work on the Packhorse shopping centre in Huddersfield is about to step up a gear with the new food court almost fully let.

The centre’s owner, property entrepreneur Zahid Iqbal, says the food court only has one unit left to fill and a long-awaited new lift is due to be installed in August.

The lift has had to be specially-made and has been on order for some time. It’s now ready and the lift and the structural work needed for the installation will cost between £75,000 and £80,000.

The lift, however, will be a game-changer for the food court and Mr Iqbal is confident it will be a big success.

“The previous food court struggled to be viable because of its very short trading hours,” he said. “Our plan is to open until 10pm.

“We will also have a lift down into the basement so that delivery drivers for the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats can drive in downstairs, park and go up in the lift. It’s a game-changer.”

Mr Iqbal said the food court – which already has one kitchen open for deliveries – would have fried chicken, sushi, thai and donner kebab outlets.

He said he was also hoping to persuade Burger King to return but there were two other independent burger operators also interested. There will also be a play area upstairs too to make the food court attractive for families with children.

The staircase to food court heaven but the lift will be a ‘game-changer.’

Mr Iqbal added: “The plan is for the lift to be installed in August and the food court is all let bar one and we’re hoping to have the food court open by October.”

There are changes planned elsewhere in the Packhorse Centre with three former Queensgate Market traders set to move into units in Market Walk.

Ann Summers moved out of its store fronting King Street in July but there are new tenants wanting to be in for October.

The former Chinese Buffet restaurant, also in King Street, will become a single shop unit downstairs with a planning application due to be submitted to create residential upstairs.

Mr Iqbal, who also owns shopping centres in Bradford and Batley, has confidence in Huddersfield and sees positive change happening already.

Ann Summers has moved out but new tenants are waiting in the wings

“Footfall is going up in Huddersfield and there’s a lot of investment going in and a lot of development,” he said.

“There is a lot of residential going in too and it’s not just student accommodation. It’s young people and they are productive for the economy and eventually you will get to a tipping point.

“In West Yorkshire Leeds and Huddersfield are getting better but Bradford, Wakefield and Dewsbury are really struggling for footfall. Huddersfield has a good number of people walking through and people are coming to spend more time for leisure than shopping.

“Lots of people are doing small developments in Huddersfield and that’s great for the town. I think Huddersfield is turning the corner.

“In West Yorkshire, apart from Leeds, I really rate Huddersfield. It’s the town with most potential.”