Market hall to be sold to make way for cinema complex

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The city’s £3m market hall will be sold off to make way for a new cinema complex.

The indoor market, which opened in 2008, will close down and traders will have to move their businesses, after a deal was agreed for the site.

Wakefield Council and Sovereign Centros, along with the owners of Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, have agreed in principle to the sale of the premises. And Sovereign Centros will put together a planning application to redevelop it into a nine-screen cinema, operated by The Light, with restaurants and cafes.

Andrew Wallhead, corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, said: “The planned development will inject something new into the city centre, boosting the night-time family economy as well as the daytime economy, and bring more jobs and investment into the district.”

The development will see the eventual closure of the market hall, which the council says has struggled, despite efforts to encourage shoppers.

But a new outdoor market, trialled last year, will officially open in the Cathedral Precinct on November 17.

The council said it had “heavily subsidised” market hall traders since the building opened. And in 2014, a report to its cabinet said this could not continue as it was “neither equitable nor acceptable”.

Proposals for the development were first announced that year and traders gathered thousands of signatures on a petition against the plan.

The council said it had been working with them to help them move to new retail units or to relocate to the outdoor market or other markets, and would offer financial support to those affected.

Mr Wallhead said: “I can understand that some traders may be disappointed and upset at the changes. We will do all we can to look after them and help them continue their business, if they want to do so.

“The new outdoor market offers a great opportunity for us to revitalise Wakefield’s market.

“This is yet another exciting addition to the city centre’s retail offer and we believe it is what is needed to secure the future of a market in Wakefield.”

The original proposals included exploring the relocation of market hall traders to a new indoor site in The Ridings Shopping Centre.

The council said it had been in talks with the centre for nearly a year but had been unable to progress with the idea, due to circumstances “beyond its control”.

A public exhibition of the plans for the redevelopment of the market hall site will be held in the Elizabethan Gallery in Trinity Walk, between 8am and 7pm on October 21 and 10am and 4pm on October 22.