Almost half the traders in Huddersfield’s Queensgate Market want to quit and take compensation rather than move to a new location.

Queensgate Market is to close in February 2023 as preparations begin for the £210 million Cultural Heart regeneration project.

The original plan was to move traders into shipping containers on the streets or into empty shop units until a new combined market was created on the site of the indoor market – in three or four years’ time.

That was the plan in January but now a survey of traders shows many have become disillusioned with the delays and uncertainty and have decided to quit.

There are currently 37 leaseholders in Queensgate Market and Kirklees Council says 17 of them want to cease trading and take compensation.

Given the amount of traders wanting out, the National Market Traders’ Federation Huddersfield branch – the former Queensgate Market Traders’ Association – asked the council to give traders the option to surrender their lease and walk away with no obligation on the council to provide relocation space in return for compensation.

That proposal has been supported by council officers but must be agreed by councillors. The proposal will go to a meeting of the council’s Cabinet for approval on Tuesday July 5.

A report to the Cabinet says back in January a “majority of traders” agreed to the temporary market move but since then many had “reviewed their position.” Some were looking to retire and or quit markets altogether and take a job.

Back in January the plan was to close Queensgate Market in August this year but that date has now slipped back to February next year.

The council report says: “Many of the Queensgate Market traders have reviewed their own personal positions and the future viability of their businesses within a relocated market offer.

“Factors such as the revised timescales for the new Huddersfield Market, the general economic climate and the cost-of-living crisis have all had an influence.”

The council has spoken to all leaseholders and found 17 wanted to cease trading and take compensation, 14 wanted to take compensation and relocate into a shop unit and six would refuse compensation and look to be relocated by the council.

Given those findings, the council report said a temporary market just wouldn’t be viable. By not providing a temporary market, the council will save £750,000 on set-up costs as well as £200,000 a year on management and services.

One of Kirklees Council’s converted shipping containers destined for use as a market stall.

Market traders’ chairman Mark Smith said: “Many of the traders at Queensgate Market have been reviewing their own personal positions and the future viability of their businesses.

“Many things have been taken into consideration including the revised timescales for the new Huddersfield Market and Cultural Heart project, the current economic climate and cost of living crisis, all of which have come off the back of a challenging few years with the pandemic.

“Traders are fully supportive of the plans within Huddersfield town centre and have been working closely with council officers to determine the best outcome for the majority affected.”

Clr Eric Firth, Cabinet member for town centres, said: “We are listening to traders and working closely with them, keen to ensure the best deal possible.  

“For a successful and dedicated interim market to be created, the support of a large number of traders with a variety of offers would be required and initial talks suggest we wouldn’t have enough traders to do that.

“We want to reassure residents though, that if this proposal is agreed, that doesn’t mean the end of an indoor market offer in Huddersfield.

“The council is working up plans and submitting a LUF (Levelling up Funding) round 2 bid for The Northumberland Street Regeneration Project, which would create an improved indoor and outdoor market offer, on the existing outdoor market site near to St Georges Square.”