David Adjaye’s £6.2 million Wakefield Market Hall could be demolished to make way for a new multi-screen cinema just six years after opening
Local authority Wakefield Council has received a bid from developer Sovereign Land to replace the iconic building.
The company owns the nearby Trinity Walk shopping centre and wants to replace the 2008 structure with a new cinema, restaurants and café designed by London-based Leslie Jones Architecture (pictured below).
A report to go before the council’s cabinet on 11 February will recommend accepting the proposal. According to the council, the market was significantly subsidised since 2008 but attracted fewer shoppers than similar facilities in Pontefract and Castleford.
A cash pot of up to £100,000 could be set aside to help market traders re-locate to other premises.
The council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic growth, councillor Denise Jeffery said: ‘We have to accept that the market hall has not worked as well as we would have liked. But we now have an exciting opportunity to inject something new into our city centre, which we believe will boost the night-time as well as the daytime economy, bringing more jobs and investment into the district.’
She continued: ‘This also gives us the chance to deliver our market offer in a different way and we want to work with traders to help relocate their businesses to other premises should they so wish. The proposed relocation of the outdoor market to the precinct will enhance it, make sure it is sustainable and create a vibrant link between the Ridings and Trinity Walk.
‘This proposal also shows how Wakefield continues to buck the national trend with developers still wanting to invest in our district and I hope people who work and shop in Wakefield will support it.’
Barbara Winston, centre manager of the Ridings and chair of Wakefield City Centre Partnership, added: ‘This [new scheme] is a fantastic idea. It will broaden the retail offer in Wakefield and expand the night-time economy, bringing in families and more visitors which is what we all want to see.’
Robert Powell, the creative director at Beam - Wakefield’s architecture centre
‘Wakefield was very brave to commission architecture at Adjaye’s level - and they did so at the same time as commissioning Chipperfield for the successful Hepworth - and for that matter granting planning permission for an imaginative, though eventually unbuilt, Will Alsop extension to the Grade II*-listed Orangery where we are based.
‘Every city needs a good and successful market and if it’s true that the Adjaye concept isn’t working for that function it’s good that a private sector player is interested in finding a new use - provided the needs and views of market traders and market users are taken into account.
The anti-architect tone is worrying
‘The anti-architect ‘lets-knock-it-down’ tone of some of this is worrying, though.’
‘That’s small-town talk. Wakefield needs to stay brave and forward-looking. The Council needs to ensure that the public get a good look at the design proposals for change of use, which need to retain some of Adjaye’s inspiration and preserve this building as an important artistic landmark in a city where culture and tourism are clearly important for the city’s future success.’
A Wakefield Council spokesperson said: ‘Wakefield Council is extremely supportive of architecture. We are home to The Hepworth Wakefield, one of the UK’s most architecturally significant buildings and recently invested in a new civic building, praised by the Wakefield Civic Society for its bold design. We are also responsible for the multi-award winning Castleford Bridge, which picked up several RIBA awards in 2009. The Council is also involved in other new build and restorative projects that are transforming the face of our City and towns.
‘However, great design is not always the answer. Successful markets are about more than just the building, they are also about atmosphere, and this Market Hall just does not have any. Despite significant efforts, initiatives and financial support since 2008 this is the only indoor market in the district that runs at a loss. This cannot continue.
‘We are brave enough to admit that Wakefield’s Market Hall has failed and forward thinking as we consider this interest from the private sector, which could give us the opportunity to rejuvenate the market in a new location and will deliver an improved leisure offer for the city.’
AJ Buildings Library
Cinema plan threatens end for Adjaye's Wakefield Market Hall