Traders to be relocated as Dewsbury market gets multi-million pound makeover

Dewsbury’s market is to be halved in size with some land sold off and stallholders “decanted” in early 2022 so improvement works can be carried out.

Traders will be relocated “on street” within the town centre to Foundry Street (between Corporation Street and Market Place), Market Place, the western footpath of Longcauseway (in front of the Prince of Wales precinct) and the forecourt of the town hall.

That is expected to cost £2.3m.

As the number and size of traders outweighs the space available on surrounding streets, some traders may be placed in vacant shops.

Dewsbury market

Council chiefs aim to spend £15m to rejuvenate the market, described as “a major draw” for the town and a “unique asset”.

To do so they will consolidate the site by cutting the number of stalls from 400 to approximately 200, emphasising food and drink and introducing a food court.

All of the open market stalls will be cleared and new stalls and layout created.

Overall it will mean a mix of cafes, street food, goods, dry goods and entertainment space.

It will also involve the clearance of the entire space – the Market Hall, the semi-covered market and the open market – and the “decanting” of stallholders for around 12 months starting in March 2022.

A feasibility study of the market has shown it is 60% occupied and so can be made smaller in future.

Kirklees Council also plans to expand the offer, moving away from what it calls the “high representation” of clothes and cloth.

In a report to be presented to the council’s decision-making Cabinet (Mar 16) officers write: “The range and quality of goods and services on offer needs to be improved if more customers are to be attracted to the market, spend longer there and therefore spend more money.”

Cash for improvements is expected to come from £8.3m allocated by the council as well as a bid for £6.6m from the government’s Towns Fund, though that money is not guaranteed.

Three years ago the council hired Ashton-under-Lyne based consultants Market Place (Europe) Ltd to gather knowledge on the market site and what it offers.

The three-month contract, which involved quizzing traders, customers and the wider Dewsbury community, was worth £40,000.

Dewsbury Market was named England’s best open air market in 2007. Three years later it benefited from a £2.7m overhaul that took a year to complete.

However it has been in decline for a number of years, particularly since the recession of 2008/10. This has manifested itself in decreasing footfall and rising vacancy rates.

The financial performance of the market has similarly been affected.

The market is considered to be a “prominent element” of the so-called Dewsbury Blueprint project.

Coun Paul Davies, the council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “By reducing the number of stalls to reflect current and potential future demand, we can create a more flexible space that meets the changing needs of our customers for years to come.”