By Chris Young LDRS

Work to demolish the former Marks & Spencer building on Darley Street to make way for the city’s new market will finally begin in February.

The demolition was originally due to begin this past Summer, with the market due to open in Spring 2022.
But the Covid 19 pandemic knocked back the scheduled works, and it has now been revealed that the demolition will not be completed until October.

The £21 million market will replace the existing Kirkgate Centre Market and Ostler Market, and will feature traditional market stalls as well as cafes, street food vendors, craft ale bars, a stage and seating for almost 500 diners.

There will also be a public square, incorporating the stone arches from the former Kirkgate Market.

At a full Council meeting earlier this month, the Council’s Executive was asked how the market plans were progressing in the light of Covid 19 and the need for social distancing.

An answer from the Council read: “Covid-19 has impacted on the Council being able to undertake and complete structural surveys, which are necessary in order to finalise the building design and ensure that the adjoining buildings are structurally stable when several properties that comprise of Nos 8 to 24 Darley Street are demolished.

The formal appointment of Kier Construction as the main contractor is due to take place in January, with a nine-month demolition contract commencing in February. Site clearance will be completed by October, when the construction of the new market will begin.
The new market will provide a positive regeneration impact and become a key destination in the city centre. It will provide a platform for independent traders specialising in quality fresh foods, non-food and hot food and beverage each separately zoned and taking place on its own dedicated floor area.

The hot food offer will provide informal and communal seating to allow customers to linger and experience the theatre of markets.
“A stage for music and entertainment is included to compliment the main activity of hot food. The market’s dedicated hot food hall will take advantage of the growth experienced in the food and beverage sector of communal eating and socialising and will offer a wide range of ‘world’ foods.

“The new market will also include an ‘open air’ market square that will become a focus of attention and gathering point for ‘ad hoc’ commercial, leisure and community events as well as providing an area of quality public realm in the city centre.
“Environmental considerations have been at the heart of the market’s design and it will be an energy-efficient, sustainable and low carbon building.

“The market will rely on natural light and ventilation to reduce operating costs, making the building cheaper for the Council to operate, more affordable to tenants and reduce the need for fossil fuels and carbon emissions. It will include sustainable urban drainage systems with rainwater being retained and harvested as grey water for toilet flushing and plant watering in the new market square. Solar panels on the Market roof will significantly reduce the production of greenhouse gasses and lower operating costs for the new Market building.
“Heavy duty electrical vehicle charging points, cycle storage facilities and public water station will be included.

“Trader development is equally as important as the market building itself and upskilling traders to offer not only ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing but also e-commence and home deliveries. Work taking place with Bradford College to create the UK’s first online training module for market traders will provide traders with the skills and knowledge to develop their business model.”

Si Cunningham, Chair of Bradford Civic Society, has highlighted the market scheme, along with the Bradford Live development, as being a potential turning point for the city centre’s fortunes.

He said: “After a very difficult year for the city I’m sure the clearance of redundant shops on Darley Street will provide a much-needed boost.
“The area around Kirkgate is in such a dreadful state now, so it’s encouraging to have this new development to look forwards to.
“Covid has clearly accelerated the demise of the high street as we know it, but has also highlighted the importance of supporting local traders and improving public spaces. Hopefully the new Darley Street market will help with both those things.”