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Adjaye voices ‘regret’ over Wakefield Market Hall demolition plans

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Architect David Adjaye has spoken of his ‘huge regret’ over Wakefield Council’s decision to allow the demolition of the six-year-old market hall he designed for the city

Members of the authority’s cabinet this week approved the closure of the £6.2million building, which completed in 2008, and for the site to be redeveloped with a new cinema and restaurant complex.

The decision comes against a backdrop of annual losses for the market that the council said were currently running at £193,000 a year.

Adjaye told AJ that he had learned of the authority’s decision, which came at a meeting on Tuesday ‘with huge regret’.

‘The importance of the typology for contemporary cities is something that I strongly believe should be safeguarded – especially for a city like Wakefield, with its heritage as a ‘market town’ that dates back to the 16th Century,’ he said.

‘Sadly, more and more markets are being lost to more standardised commercial developments and this is real loss for the character of our urban centres.’

Wakefield plans to relocate traders currently using the market to different sites, including a new outdoor market.

Councillor Denise Jeffery, Wakefield’s cabinet member for economic growth and skills, said redeveloping the market site would bring bring ‘significant investment’ into the city.

‘Research shows that people would be more likely to come into the city centre if a new cinema and restaurants were developed,’ she said.

The council’s decision to close the market approves the sale of the site of Adjaye’s building to Sovereign Land and Orion Capital Managers.

Earlier this year Orion bought Wakefield’s Trinity Walk Shopping Centre, which is next to the market, from a consortium that included Sovereign.


Previous story (AJ 05.02.14)

Cinema plan threatens end for Adjaye’s Wakefield Market Hall

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).

Indicative image showing Leslie Jones Architecture's proposal to replace the Wakefield Market Hall with a new cinema, restaurants and café

Indicative image showing Leslie Jones Architecture’s proposal to replace the Wakefield Market Hall with a new cinema, restaurants and café

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.’

Postscript 11.02.14

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.’



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Readers' comments (1)

  • The market isn't being lost to commercial development, rather Adjaye's design was a spectacular failure in design which didn't respond to trader's needs and essentially killed the busting spirit of the former market hall. The fact that Wakefield is actively looking to relocate the market illustrates just how integral the market is to the heritage and spirit of the city.

    I'm saddened that the market will be redeveloped into a cinema complex but maybe Adjaye should just admit that his design was inappropriate and based on personal ego rather than context and site responsive design.

    It's devastating that this was allowed to happen in the first place and what an enormous waste of money, Adjaye should be apologising for letting so many people down.

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