City’s former market hall set to be transformed into an exhibition centre and renamed Wakefield Exchange

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Wakefield’s former market hall looks set to be turned into an exhibition centre.

The Wakefield Exchange project will see the city centre site turned into a creative hub to hold creative events.

A report to senior councillors says the new premises will provide a “vibrant creative and social area” for residents and local businesses.

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It is estimated the new premises will attract around 300,000 visitors a year will support the regeneration of the city centre

Wakefield Market HallWakefield Market Hall
Wakefield Market Hall

Wakefield Council’s Cabinet members are being asked to approve a recommendation to allocate more than £900,000 of funding for the scheme.

A report says the project will act as a catalyst for further creative and digital industries to develop and will support the growth of skilled jobs in the district.

It is hoped the centre will complement other key developments, including the Tileyard North development at Rutland Mills.Read more: Council to decide on making an offer to by The Ridings Shopping Centre

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The report states: “The redeveloped site will support the growth of the district’s festivals and events and provide an annual programme which engages local residents and families to come together through shared experiences, as well as attracting a significant number of visitors into the city.”

Wakefield Market Hall.Wakefield Market Hall.
Wakefield Market Hall.

“The investment will contribute to providing better employment opportunities for local residents.”

It is likely that a charity, called Unlimited, will move to Wakefield Exchange from its current London base.

The organisation supports and promotes the work of disabled artists.

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The report says: “Their move from London to Wakefield is a major change and recognition of Wakefield district as an important centre for growing culture and creativity.

“Unlimited’s work will diversify the cultural offer of the district and support opportunities for local disabled residents and artists.”

Following redevelopment, the site will have three main functions:

– Showcasing spaces for events and exhibitions.

– Providing workspace for creative and digital businesses.

– Providing space for creative skill development and business support activities.

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Traders were moved out of the market hall, next to Wakefield Bus Station, in 2018, having been there for 10 years.

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Many deemed the hall a failure, with stall holders complaining about low footfall.

For the last four years they have been doing business on the Cathedral precinct on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Coun Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The transformation of the former market hall is really exciting and will allow us to support local people to develop new skills and access jobs in the creative and digital sector, alongside delivering a range of fun events and activities to support our local economy.

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“The hugely popular Festival of the Moon, WordFest and the Fire & Ice installation as part of the Festival of the Earth have already showcased the potential of the site, with amazing feedback from residents and visitors, and we’re so excited to see it all come to fruition.”

Cabinet is being recommended to agree to reallocate Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) grant funding, the allocation of UK Shared Prosperity Funding and the Council’s cultural growth investment fund to enable the completion of the project.

Members of Cabinet are meeting on Tuesday December 13 at 10.30am

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