BRADFORD’S markets are in line for a major shake-up, as part of a new £15m Council regeneration scheme.

Under the plan, the former Marks and Spencer building in ailing Darley Street would become a new food market, to replace the existing Oastler Centre.

The Oastler Centre, car park and former Morrisons store would then be demolished for housing, in a bid to get more people living in the city.

The Council-run Kirkgate Market would get a £2.5m to £3m modernisation and would focus on non-food goods.

And the North Parade area would also be set for a revamp, with £2m of public realm works designed to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for regeneration, said it would be a real boost for both the markets and Darley Street.

He said: “It’s not just about securing the future of the markets, it’s also about regenerating and investing in that key corridor in the city centre.”

Bradford Council has taken an option to buy the old Marks and Spencer building, which is currently being used for arts events.

The authority will consult with traders and the public before deciding whether to buy it later this year. If the plan goes ahead, the new market could open by 2021.

The long-awaited announcement comes amid concern for trading conditions in both Darley Street and Bradford’s ‘top of town’.

The area was hit by the closure of Morrisons’ store in Westgate last year and a decline in trading as shoppers flowed to The Broadway shopping centre.

Traders had called for clarity over the future of the Oastler site and there had been rumours that a move to the Marks and Spencer building was on the cards.

Cllr Ross-Shaw said the opening of The Broadway, combined with the way people’s shopping habits were changing, meant they had to act accordingly.

He said: “This will obviously reshape the city centre, just by virtue of the fact we are replacing a retail centre with predominantly housing.

“The centre of gravity of the city centre has changed and we have got to respond to that.

“Regeneration never stops, so we are always responding to the market and how it works. This is something most city centres across the country are facing at the moment.”

Bradford Council is in talks with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority about helping to finance the scheme.

Developers would be encouraged to build a mixture of houses and flats on the Oastler site once it is empty.

Oastler market traders yesterday gave a mixed reaction to the news, with many welcoming the idea but saying they needed support in the meantime.

Gunther Giangregorio, owner of Roswithas Deli, said: “This really pushes the market into the 21st century.

“The move for the food market is the way forward and will regenerate Darley Street.

“What we need now is to work out the timescale and how much help we will need in the interim, and make decisions on which businesses will be invited to the market at Kirkgate.”

David Crompton, owner of AJ Pickup & Son butchers, said: “It’s a fantastic long term plan, and in my opinion the only option for the markets and Darley Street.

“But, we need to work on a short term plan until such things come to fruition.”

Traders who sold non-food goods were less optimistic.

Peter Pundit, owner of Pundit’s clothes shop, said: “We are all up in arms in non-food, it feels like the council are saying ‘thank you and goodbye’.

“My family have been here for 55 years, and this is just wrong.

“If we could, I would definitely move to the Kirkgate market, but it’s not big enough for us all, so what will happen to the rest?”

Beverley Hannam, owner of the Kard Kabin, card shop, said she felt “very let down”.

She said: “I don’t know if I would go to the Kirkgate, there are two competitor businesses there, but I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t get in there.”

Councillor John Pennington, of the opposition Conservative group, said he had come up with the same idea - of moving the market into the Marks and Spencer building - in his own masterplan for the city centre.

He said they should not hold a public consultation and should just “get on with it”.

He added: “I don’t care who gets the credit for this, I just want somebody to get on and do it.”