PLANS for a massive transformation of one of Bradford’s main shopping streets have been approved.

An application to demolish a swathe of buildings on Darley Street to replace them with a new multi storey food market building and a “city square” were approved by Bradford Council at a meeting this morning.

The new market facility will include a floor featuring numerous street food vendors, music performances and possibly bars - and it is hoped this part of the scheme would open late to bring much needed evening footfall to the area.

The scheme is part of a shake up of Bradford’s markets - Darley Street will be home to the new food market while the existing Kirkgate Market will be refurbished to become a non-food market. The Oastler Market will be demolished to make way for a new housing development.

At a meeting of the Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday members were told that the development would be completed by late 2021.

The £21 million project will involve the demolition of the old Marks & Spencer building and several other units on Darley Street, including the Scotts sportswear and a recently opened tobacco shop.

Now the plans have been approved, the Council will move ahead with compulsory purchase orders to obtain the buildings that will be demolished.

Colin Wolstenholme, markets manager at the Council, told members the new market would be smaller than the existing Oastler Market - which currently has a number of empty units.

He added: “The first floor area will be for street food vendors, music and possibly drinks.We want to promote a market that it open until the early evening, with customers able to access the first floor externally when the other stalls are shut.”

He said the market and the surrounding area will host specialist market events, pointing out that when Bradford usually hosts events like Christmas markets, they are often criticised by traders for being held too far away from the Oastler Market.

Mr Wolstenholme told members there had been some criticism of moving the market from the top of town area, but pointed out that the market had traditionally been held near Darley Street. He said: “We are putting the market back to where it was 150 years ago.

“We don’t want to eliminate existing customers, or the low income customers who use the existing markets.”

Discussing the timetable for the development, he said; “If the compulsory purchase orders go according to plan the scheme will start in February or March. Construction would then start in October/November 2020, with the build taking 60 weeks. He said: “That takes us to late 2021.”

Members were told the Council would open discussions with the retailers that would be displaced by the demolition to try to find them a new home.

Chair of the Committee Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “I’m quite happy with these plans. What I have heard from officers is really good and this will be a good development for the city centre, and lead to another for the Oastler Centre site.

After the approval Steve Hartley, Bradford Council’s Strategic Director of Place, said: “This is an important step for both the plans to reinvent the market offering in Bradford and the ambitious plans to reclaim Bradford’s city centre.

“We believe we already have a great retail and shopping offer around the bottom of the town, including the Broadway Centre. The work we’re putting into the city centre at the top of town will ensure that the entire city centre provides a diverse and attractive environment for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

“Receiving approval on the planning application is fantastic news to share and we’re truly excited about the designs for the future of Bradford’s markets.”

The council will now go on to develop detailed plans before inviting contractors to tender for construction.