City Centre on track for new major development and new outdoor market

​Ref: PR 8373
Date: 7/10/2016

Wakefield is set to be transformed, with yet another regeneration boost, as the deal to bring a new multi-screen cinema to the city centre is agreed.

Wakefield Council and Sovereign Centros, together with the owners of the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, have agreed - in principle - the sale of the site currently occupied by Wakefield’s Market Hall.

Sovereign Centros will now bring forward a planning application for the redevelopment of the site as a new leisure destination to include a nine-screen cinema to be operated by The Light Cinema brand together with restaurant and café units.

The landmark deal also heralds the start of a new era for markets in Wakefield with the official opening, on 17 November, of a new outdoor market in the city centre precinct.

Andrew Wallhead, Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth said: “This is an exciting time for the city centre with a major development proposal and a new market opening.

“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.

“Sovereign Centros and the owners of the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre have shown great confidence in the economic viability of Wakefield by making, yet another, multi-million pound investment in the city centre. This is a real endorsement, by the private sector, showing that Wakefield is a thriving city with significant potential.

“Our offer to residents and visitors will be further enhanced by the new outdoor market site, right in the heart of the city. This was trialled last year and proved to be a real success with shoppers and traders alike.”

Sovereign Centros Director Max La Frenais said: “We are delighted to be involved in this next phase of the regeneration of Wakefield. The Light is one of the UK’s most exciting cinema brands and, together with the restaurants and cafes, will create a new attraction that will bring more people into the city centre. This will be good for existing businesses as well as the new ones.

"We will be revealing details of our proposals for the site at a public exhibition later this month and anticipate that the people of Wakefield will be as excited about them as we are. We hope to submit a planning application before the end of the year."

The deal for the new cinema complex will see the eventual closure of Wakefield’s Market Hall. The indoor market, which opened in 2008 has struggled despite significant efforts and initiatives to encourage shoppers.

This is not a situation unique to Wakefield. Surveys nationally show that a third of all markets have seen a continuing decrease in shoppers, with indoor markets more heavily affected.

Wakefield’s Market Hall traders have been heavily subsidised by the Council since it opened and in 2014 a report to Wakefield’s Cabinet stated that this could not continue as it was neither equitable nor acceptable.

Wakefield Council has been working with traders to support them in moves to other markets or new retail units. The Council has also been in talks, for nearly a year, with The Ridings Shopping Centre regarding the potential relocation of the current indoor market traders. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the control of the Council this has been unable to progress.

Wakefield Council is carrying on working with the traders who remain in the Market Hall. Enhanced financial support, along with continued help to relocate their businesses elsewhere, is being offered to those who will be affected.

Andrew Wallhead said: “We are continuing to work closely with the Market Hall traders and I am delighted that several of them will be joining the new outdoor market.

“However, 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.”

A public exhibition of the plans for the redevelopment of the site is scheduled to be held in the Elizabethan Gallery at Trinity Walk on Friday 21 October (8am - 7pm) and Saturday 22 October (10am - 4pm).

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