Bradford Council has taken an option to purchase the former Marks & Spencer building on Darley Street as part of a major £15 million development scheme to regenerate the top end of Bradford, revitalise the city centre markets and support local trade.

The proposal would see a new food-focussed market open in the former Marks & Spencer building in Darley Street. As part of the same proposal, Kirkgate Market would receive a face lift as the result of significant investment to redesign it. It would be the biggest investment in the Market since it opened in 1974.

Once the work on the markets is complete and open to the public, the Oastler Centre would close.  The Council would seek to redevelop the site, focussing on city centre housing, creating a new community which would support both markets and North Parade as the local high street.

Further detailed work to develop these proposals will now be undertaken by the Council. Consultations will be held with market traders, local businesses and other interested parties to gather their views. Market traders were the first to learn about the proposals when they received a letter this morning inviting them to a meeting. The proposals and all feedback will be examined by the Council’s Executive later in the year before reaching a decision.

The Council is also proposing significant public realm improvements on North Parade and nearby streets to make it a more attractive visitor destination and encourage further investment, building on the thriving food and drink offer. North Parade was shortlisted in 2015 in the Great British High Street competition.

These measures are in addition to the £2m grant approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Working with property owners, the Council will transform some of Bradford’s most beautiful historic buildings, returning them to their former glory and increasing use and improving the built environment.

In addition to the Heritage Lottery Funding, the Council has set aside money originally planned for the refurbishment of the Oastler Centre. The Council is also in discussions with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for additional funding.

Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Creating a new market at the heart of Darley Street would be brilliant for Bradford.  We have a great food offer and our ambition is for it to be centre stage, in the heart of the City on a street associated with markets in Bradford for generations.

“City centres change all the time, regeneration never stops. In this country our shopping habits have changed enormously and it’s important that Bradford city centre keeps pace with these changes.”

The Council has already enhanced public realm in the city centre by introducing attractive stone paving and planters and will continue to promote the City Centre Growth Zone and Priority Streets funding which offers business rates relief to those businesses who are creating jobs, and support events such as the Creative Streets activities and family entertainment.

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