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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Extra £1.4m for Darley Street market

Council to spend an extra £1.4m on new market

An extra £1.4 million will be spent on Darley Street Market after Bradford Council changed its plans for the new development’s food court.

But one councillor has questioned why extra money was being found for this project while other developments across the district are being paused due to the Council’s perilous financial situation.

Members of Bradford Council’s Executive were given an update on the authority’s current financial situation at a meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting heard that the council is expected to overspend its budget by £75.5m by the end of March.

This overspend is £7.7m higher than what was predicted just a few months ago.

The Council is waiting for a response from Government over whether it will get “exceptional financial support” – permission to borrow money to balance the budget.

If this support is not granted, the Council will be unable to close its budget gap, and will likely need to declare bankruptcy.

Although huge cutbacks are expected in the coming months, with facilities across the District likely to shut, the financial update that went to the Executive revealed the Council plans to invest a further £1.455m in Darley Street Market – due to open this Summer.

The money will go towards fitting out the food and beverage hall – on the top floor of the development.

Council bosses argue the changes to how the food hall is delivered mean the authority would soon make its money back on this extra spending.

The food hall will include 11 food kiosks, two bars, a stage for day and night time entertainment along with seating for around 500 customers both indoors and on the external balcony area.

The market will replace the city centre’s two existing markets – Kirkgate and Oastler, which will both shut after Darley Street Market opens.

The major redevelopment scheme, which is almost completed, was originally budgeted at £23.5m – but this then increased to £27m, with the Council blaming high inflation rates.

Built on the site of the former Darley Street M&S, the building will have three floors, one selling non food goods, one selling fresh food and the top floor being the food court.

It will also have a city square linking Darley Street with Piccadilly.

Originally the Council planned to rent out the stalls in the food hall to operators – but the financial report said the new plan was to instead take a percentage of the turnover of the stalls.

The report to the Executive said: “To maximise rental income from the food and beverage hall and after testing the market, it is proposed to move away from charging a fixed rent to a turnover rent where each tenant pays a percentage of their sales turnover to the Council.

“This is in line with common practice in food halls across the UK.

“A sum of £1.455m is required to fit out the F&B operation at Darley Street Market, scheduled to open in Summer 2024 of which £0.455m has been set aside from the existing City Centre Market budget with £1m required as additional budget being treated as an invest to save scheme with the borrowing costs being fully funded from the additional rental income generated.”

Cllr Debbie Davies Image: Bradford Council

Cllr Debbie Davies (Cons, Baildon) said: “Referring to the additional spend on Darley Street Market – how is it allowed to go over budget yet again while projects such as the new Baildon’s new library are put on hold?”

Before the Council revealed the extent of its financial difficulties, plans were underway to create a new library in Baildon in the former Baildon Club building.

Baildon Library had been based in Ian Clough Hall, which has recently been demolished to make way for a residential development.

A temporary library is currently operating out of a former shop unit in Baildon.

However, due to the current financial situation, the Council is reviewing all its capital schemes, including Baildon Library.

In response to Cllr Davies’ concerns, Councillor Alex Ross Shaw – Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said some of the money was from the existing budget set aside for the market.

David Shepherd, Director of Place, said the extra spend was down to the change in the model the Council was adopting for the food hall.

He added: “The money we invest will be recouped through the income generated by the market.”

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