The market stall traders of Queensgate Market are disconcerted with Kirklees council’s Huddersfield Blueprint, a 10 year vision that will see the town centre culturally redeveloped.
The plans to rejuvenate the Piazza and Queensgate areas of town will force the traders to move twice over the next four years. First to the old BHS store in 2020, then to where the current outdoor market is in 2023.
The traders have expressed concerns over such moves, feeling that it will be extremely detrimental to their business and could force some, if not all, of them to cease trading.
Mark Smith, Chairman of the Huddersfield indoor branch of the NMFT, is also worried about the prospect of moving, fearing that the infrastructure as well as the location could be problematic.
‘The way it is around there at the moment it just won’t do. If you look the outdoor market has been getting smaller and smaller. We have got a couple of tenants who used to work the outdoor market and they have said they will not move back there.
‘It’s all unknown and that’s what we’re all worried about. There a lot of problems around there, like anti-social behaviour and it’s quite bad. We also need all the infrastructure to be put in place before we move too.’
John Healey, Secretary of the Huddersfield Indoor Branch of the National Market Traders Federation (NMFT), believes the council’s failure to involve the union in planning was a ‘slap in the face’
‘their wording was you are the centre of the retail planning for the town centre, you are going to be one of the major things that we are incorporating, then in the master plan there was no mention of us whatsoever.
‘Any business will tell you that clientele doesn’t always follow you, you might go but it doesn’t mean they will too. And to do it twice to us is a real slap in the face. There’s nobody who will tell you moving twice is good for business.’
Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, believes that bringing the two markets together will ‘deliver a better experience for shoppers and traders alike.’
‘We’ve taken the views of those who are against the move of the indoor market from the Queensgate area into consideration, as well as the views of those who support the move. As with most things, there is not a general consensus but we are committed to delivering what’s right for the town.
‘We appreciate the impact on the market traders, and will do all we can to work with them to limit this impact during the construction phases. We have been talking to them about their plans for the future and their business needs. Which is the first part of the engagement programme. We are currently finalising our vision for the new market and after Christmas, we plan to start sharing this with traders and getting their views.’
Despite their anger over Kirklees’ desire to move the traders to the outskirts, they are still in favour of the plans to rejuvenate the town centre and are more then aware of the need to refocus the town’s appeal – just not at the expense of their businesses.