Plans for Queensgate Market are back in the melting pot as traders have sent out a message to shoppers: “We’re open for business!”
Kirklees Council had said the market hall would close in August with traders moved into converted shipping containers on the streets or empty shop units owned by the council.
But now traders have been told it’ll be February next year at the earliest that they will move, though there’s still no certainty over what is being planned.
The long-term plan is to merge the indoor and outdoor markets and create a new Huddersfield Market based around food and events – but that is likely to be three years away at least.
In the meantime traders will be moved into converted shipping containers at the Market Place end of New Street or into vacant shops. It is understood that New Street would need to be pedestrianised in order to make it wide enough and safe enough for the outdoor stalls.
Under the latest plans suggested by architects the Queensgate Market building would become a food court while the ‘east wing’ would have an extension and become the new library.
Since demolition of the Market Hall multi-storey car park the number of shoppers coming into Queensgate Market has dropped off.
Traders have also been keen to counter the perception that the market hall is already closed.
Lindsay Foster at Lincoln’s Florist said traders were keen to address the “misinformation” that the market had already shut.
“We are very much open for business,” she said. “If people get the wrong idea and don’t come and support the market it will kill a lot of the remaining businesses.”
Lindsay’s business isn’t as reliant on people coming in person as she takes most of her orders online or over the phone. She’s also set to move into a shop unit in High Street when the market closes.
What no one can say is when the market will close. “The council said it would be August but now they are saying February but we all know it’s going to be a lot longer than that,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay has owned the business for 15 years and for all those years there has been uncertainty and promises of re-development, none of which have yet materialised.
There are mixed views amongst traders, some of whom are coming towards retirement and may decide the compensation being offered by the council when the market finally closes will be a good time to get out.
The National Market Traders’ Federation Huddersfield branch – the former Queensgate market traders’ association – is working with the council to find a solution that works for everyone and hope to have some answers shortly.
The council’s plans won’t be made an easier when long-serving and well-respected head of markets, Chris Cotton, leaves his job in May.
At a Cabinet meeting in January council leader Shabir Pandor singled Mr Cotton out for special praise saying he and his team had done some “fantastic work” in planning the market move. It now seems those plans have changed. This what Clr Pandor said.
Christian Lemanski, who works for his uncle’s Queensgate Ironmongers business, said everything was still up in the air with lots of uncertainty for business owners and their staff.
He said trade had been lost because of the car park demolition and said there wasn’t enough signposting. “The whole market looks like it’s closed,” he said.
The business has seven units in the market hall and would need four shipping containers, not that they want to move outside.
“They say that shipping containers worked in York but that’s because they were down by the river,” said Christian. “It won’t work here. People will think it’s an eyesore.”
Colin Parr, Kirklees Council’s strategic director for environment and climate change, said: “Discussions and negotiations are ongoing with individual traders and we will be supporting them throughout this process to determine the best solutions for them and their businesses.”