AT LAST! Work on Sheffield’s £17.5 million Moor Market will finally start in two months’ time - 14 years after the project to replace ageing Castle Market was first proposed.
Sheffield Council has appointed Kier construction to build the 79,000 sq ft building on empty land opposite Atkinsons, where old shops were bulldozed.
Building work will take around 16 months to complete and the new market is planned to open on November 4, 2013.
Funding for the redevelopment will be borrowed by Sheffield Council.
The new building will house a single-storey market hall to house 200 stalls, plus eight two-storey shop units fronting onto The Moor.
A second contract to repave the upper part of The Moor at a cost of £2.6 million, funded by Scottish Widows which manages the shopping street, has also been handed to North Midland Construction and will be completed in the same timescale as the market scheme.
Sheffield Council executive director Simon Green said: “The markets have been central to Sheffield for more than 800 years. The new Moor Market will be a tremendous opportunity to reach a wider range of customers in a new setting for the 21st century.”
Markets manager Andy Ward revealed trade at Castle Market is continuing to fall, with electronic machines counting four million visits last year, down from six million a decade ago – but predicted a new building would help reverse the decline.
He said: “Castle Market has some fantastic traders and we are trying to look after them in this new building, while also trying to bring back some of the traders we have lost.”
Mr Ward said the new market would have fewer stalls than the 238 at Castle Market, but 40 per cent of Castle Market’s stalls are unoccupied. The Moor also has more buses serving it than Castle Market area so would be easier for more customers to travel to.
Sheffield Council’s head of city centre development Simon Ogden said the council intends to press ahead with plans to excavate the site of the current markets to establish what remains of the medieval castle.
He said: “English Heritage does not support any application to have the existing building listed and we do not support that either. This is the first opportunity since the 1920s to assess what is beneath. We would like to see what’s there and then how that could fit around new public areas and development.”
Mr Ogden said a scheme to redevelop the market, which then involved rebuilding at Castlegate, was first proposed in 1998. Sheffield Council said it had not spent major amounts on maintenance to the current market because of long-standing plans to rebuild the facility.