Refurbishment of Halifax Borough Market will move forward with a phased, priority led approach, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet has agreed.
Bringing the Grade II listed 19th century market up to a modern state in terms of its heating, lighting, electrics, safety systems and refurbishing the famous “streets in the sky” – homes which are above it – will cost at least £8 million and a “gold standard” refurb recommended in a feasability report would cost around £18 million, Cabinet members heard when they met at Halifax Town Hall this week.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden), told colleagues work was under way on restoring the clock and creating an open space at the heart of the market by moving the greengrocer’s stall.
This meant activities could be held and all modern markets needed this, he said.
While the programme is ambitious the council is cash-strapped and accordingly its officers have begun exploring grant options including the Future High Streets Fund and the Heritage
Lottery to help fund the project which aims to put the landmark market at the heart of modern business while retaining its Victorian splendour – originally the market had an open space at its centre, for example.
Coun Bob Metcalfe (Lab, Town) said a series of challenges had been identified and it was important to get wider age groups using the market.
“To me, the future of the market is to make sure that all people – and young people – are attracted to it and enjoy themselves there,” he said.
Cabinet chair Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said the council needed to get back the the town centre being a place for culture and recreation as well as shopping.
Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) referred to the bronze, silver and gold refurbishment packages in the report, hoped “gold” would be the aim and sought assurances about the ultimate standard of refurbishment.
Coun Collins said officers had advised councillors all three of those approaches had issues and the council did not have £18 million ready for the “gold” option.
“What we are talking about is trying to raise as much money as we can towards that kind of target to make the market fit for the rest of the century,” he said.
The council commissioned the feasibility study into the refurbishment of the Borough Market in August 2017, which provided an indication of the likely costs of updating the building, including improvements to the heating, lighting, electrical wiring, toilet facilities and restoring the “streets in the sky”.
The study, led by the IBI Group but utilising other sector specialists, has given a “gold, silver and bronze” rating to refurbishment approaches.
The bronze option, costing more than £8 million is described as “light touch” including replacing mechanical and electrical systems including heating, lighting,electrics and fire safety systems and bringing the “streets in the sky” back into use.
The silver option comes in at more than £14 million and would take in full refurbishment of the market hall, replacing the mechanical and electrical systems, remodelling the “streets in the sky” and developing a new aparthotel in a phased approach.
The gold option, at almost £19 million, is the same as the silver option but with a “one hit” approach which would involve relocating the market to another site while the work took place.
IBI recommends the silver option – but council officers are recommending to councillors not to progress directly with any of these approaches as they are not ideal.
The bronze option is too limited and the other two require a large single injection of capital for which there is currently no clear funding source, they say.
Instead they suggested the alternative phased approach which was approved.