It’s been a long time coming, but the construction of the Moor markets passed another milestone this week with a topping out ceremony for the £18m complex.
While the economic downturn has blighted much of the city centre, work on the markets is progressing with a view to an opening in November.
Accommodation is being created for 195 stallholders, with an emphasis on fresh produce. The council said this week it had received applications, mainly from Castlegate traders, that would fill the hall one-and-a-half times.
The topping out ceremony yesterday (Wednesday) was attended by representatives of Scottish Widows Investment Property Partnership Trust, which has funded eight shops next to the markets, the council, and construction company Bowmer & Kirkland.
Council leader Julie Dore said: “We’ve reached a major milestone in the regeneration of The Moor and it’s rewarding to see our plans becoming real.”
Both the council and Scottish Widows, whose parent company is Lloyds Banking Group, believe the precinct is on the verge of a renaissance, with the imminent arrival of TJ Hughes and other retailers adding to the spine of Debenhams, Atkinson’s and BHS.
Talks are being held with cinema operators for a proposed multi-screen cinema in a new block below Debenhams, alongside shops and restaurants, which is part of a strategy of widening the appeal of The Moor and making it a night-time as well as a daytime attraction. Demolition is starting of Chesham House, at the back, off Charter Row.
Scottish Widows co-manager Kerri Hunter said: “We are well underway in realising our investment objectives and look forward to continuing our plans, including delivering a leisure offer that will be an added attraction and provide an evening economy.”
She added: “We have got off to a great start.”
Also lined up is the demolition of the block at the corner of Furnival Gate - which used to accommodate a McDonalds fast food unit - to make way for new shops with a video screen facing the junction.