Darley Street Market will add momentum to the city. Credit: Place North

Bradford rethinks Squire Lane, lines up Darley Street vendors

Sign-off is sought to rescope the Levelling Up Fund-backed leisure facility down to a £35m project, while deals are being done with traders for the city centre market, to open in 2024.

Both Bradford Council’s executive and its regeneration & environment overview & scrutiny committee meet on 3 October.

Squire Lane

The executive will be updated on the progress of the Squire Lane leisure, community, health & wellbeing centre and walked through a revised proposal on how the project can be delivered within existing financial constraints.

Essentially, the plan as originally envisaged was for a co-located leisure centre/gym along with healthcare facilities, but securing commitment from the latter element is proving problematic.

This has led council officers to recommend the scheme being reworked to less than half its original size, from 116,000 sq ft to 46,171 sq ft, bringing the total capital cost down from £48.9m as approved in July 2021, to £34.9m, factoring in a contingency of £3.2m.

Bradford approved the development of a £48.9m facility in July 2021, subject to £20m in Levelling Up Fund support being secured, which was duly done.

A report in February this year urged progress towards appointing a contractor, so as not to risk losing the LUF cash – on the current timeline, a contractor is due to be appointed in January 2024. However, due to health funding now taking a longer time to confirm, key partner Bradford District Care Trust has now said it cannot commit to the project.

Thus, a decision is required on rescoping the scheme sov that it remains affordable and continues to meet LUF criteria.

Squire Lane is part of Bradford’s sports facilities investment strategy from 2015, which has seen three leisure centres closed, and so far, only one new venue open.

The report to executive said: “As health partners have now withdrawn from the scheme, there will be no income generated to cover the prudential borrowing cost of the capital required to construct the health space.

“As a result, the re-scoping has focussed on reducing floorspace, continuing to provide community space, meeting rooms and a hall where health services could be delivered, but which reduces the overall revenue implications of development.”

Darley Street Market

Plans were approved in May 2019 for a food-led market that will be a centrepiece of a Bradford city centre undergoing a period of renewal, with main contractor Kier now busy on site and heading towards completion and handover by the end of 2023.

At that point, the council will take over, with a fit-out contractor expected to be confirmed next month.

The market, designed by Greig & Stephenson, has four levels, the top three of them being public-facing spaces. At ground level, the General Merchandising Hall will offer 28 non-food units, with a further three external spaces – two cafes and a florist, which can trade directly onto the market square.

The Fresh Market Hall at level one will offer 32 fresh food units, along with two pop-up spaces available on short-term arrangements. Above this, the Dining Hall will feature 13 kiosks, and seating for 500 customers indoors and on an external terrace – it will also include a stage.

Applications were invited last year, with part of the selection process involving scoring by a trader selection panel including a representative of the National Market Traders’ Federation.

Forty three businesses representing 54 of the 63 units on the lower two trading floors have now received and accepted their provisional offers. A further 28 are on a reserve list, while 40 businesses have been “pended”

These are either more recent applications, or are those seeking one of the kiosk spaces at dining hall level, the selection of which will begin once Bradford appoints an operating partner in November.

The council said that with a quality environment desired, it will contribute up to 50% of fit-out costs for stalls, up to a ceiling to be agreed in line with unit sizes.

Darley Street Market is expected to open in summer 2024.

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