Piece Hall to close for 18 months

Piece Hall traders say they have been let down and misled by Calderdale Council over plans to redevelop the historic Halifax landmark.

Shop owners received formal offers in February 2012 stating there would be a phased programme of works as the building undergoes a £19 million transformation and they would be housed in units elsewhere in the building.

Piece Hall traders Samantha Rayner, Pat Steer and Naomi Rayner.

Piece Hall traders Samantha Rayner, Pat Steer and Naomi Rayner.

But last week they were shocked to find out that the offer, which they signed, had been withdrawn and this would be their last Christmas in the building.

It is set to close for 18 months and they would have to find new premises by January 2014.

Pat Steer, who owns the Collect@ store, said: “It’s heartbreaking because we’ve been misled.

“I’m disgusted with the way this building has been managed over the last few years but there are still some great businesses here.

“We should have all left four years ago.”

Traders will receive a pay-off of £450 for every year they’ve owned a unit plus one year’s rent (approximately £2,000 to £3,000) and a third of a year’s rent to cover moving costs.

They say if they move out of the town centre for 18 months they will lose key suppliers.

Ace Clothing owner Samantha Rayner has been said: “I’ve seen units that I could’ve taken but have stayed here because they said they’d take care of us and we could carry on trading during the works.”

Piece Hall project director Barry Reynolds has told traders they can return when work is completed in August 2015 paying their current rent for one year, which will rise to 75 per cent of the market value the following year, then full market value in the third year.

“They’ve given us no estimation of what the market value will be,” said Mrs Rayner.

“On the high street you can pay anything from £26,000 to £80,000 a year. I’m going to get £10,000. We have to start again and find somewhere that will give us an 18-month lease. Basically my business will come to an end because of this.”

Piece Hall project director Barry Reynolds said: “The decision was made by the Strategic Project Board on March 14, 2013.

“As the detailed designs for the construction element of the project have developed, it is clear to the council and its professional advisers (mechanical engineers, constructional engineers and architects) that there will be significant interruption of basic services including water and electricity during the construction works.

“There will also be constant use of heavy machinery and plant within the Piece Hall during the re-levelling of the courtyard and works to the buildings. It would be an environment that we consider to be too noisy and dirty for visitors and tenants to continue to operate effectively from. This solution will cause the least disruption overall. We look forward to welcoming tenants back at the end of the construction works.

“The council is providing reasonable support to the existing Piece Hall businesses who need to trade elsewhere during the construction.”