Bazaars attract people to Bradford from far and wide, and could play an important part in the future of the city’s markets, a regeneration committee has decided.

Bradford Council plans a major shake-up of the town’s indoor markets in the coming years which would involve the Oastler Shopping Centre and Kirkgate Market merging.

A decision on whether this unified market would be on a new site or in a refurbished version of either market building will not be made until the City Plan is released later this year.

Both markets have experienced rising vacancy rates as they compete with the rising number of discount stores in the city centre with about one in ten stalls vacant.

The Council’s regeneration and economy scrutiny committee has decided whatever form the market may take, councillors should at least explore the idea of incorporating a bazaar-style shopping experience.

Councillor Mohammad Shabir said it would truly reflect the city’s diverse heritage and make the most of the large Asian population that shops in these markets.

Bradford has two official bazaars, but the Council has taken legal action against others it claims have been illegally set up in empty buildings.

Coun Shabir (Respect, Heaton) raised the issue by saying bazaars were popular with the Asian community and could bring more shoppers into the city centre if properly supported.

He said: “They attract people from outside the district. Are we currently missing out on that potential market? There is a cultural aspect to these markets. Are we doing enough to understand that culture?

“If bazaars are going to remain, then are we doing enough to capitalise on the revenue they bring in?”

Barra MacRuari, director of regeneration and culture, said: “The city’s bazaars don’t always express themselves in the best form, but we have to look how we seize that activity and build it as a legitimate economy.”

Earlier in the debate, committee deputy chairman, Councillor David Heseltine, warned that the Council needed to think carefully about moving either market, as it would have a huge impact on surrounding shops.

He said: “We have to be very careful we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot and lay waste to part of the city because we shift things.”