Plans to create a mainline train route between Leeds and Manchester have been announced, slashing journey times to 7 minutes to Leeds and 22 minutes to Manchester and connecting businesses and workforces to existing, new and emerging markets across the North and beyond.
The move would create potential to develop a northern food hub, with a new larger and more accessible modern wholesale market being centre stage, creating more jobs, strengthening local and regional food distribution as well as market access for regional food producers.
The market remains fully let with no opportunity to expand on the current site despite strong demand from existing businesses wishing to expand and new businesses wishing to locate here to take advantage of the 500 local and regional retailers that use the market each week.
Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium said of the plans: "We are delighted Bradford recognisees the substantial and positive impact of their wholesale market. It’s an opportunity to offer traders and the wider community a world leading Northern food hub“.
As a city, Bradford is strategically located being equidistant between London and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Hull meaning it is in an ideal location for the movement of fresh produce across the UK.
Council Leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, who is also chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “We are very proud to have one of the largest wholesale markets in the North of England and are committed to that continuing in Bradford. Indeed we want to enable it to develop further and prosper and become one of the most pre-eminent wholesale markets in the country.
"St James’s Market is outgrowing its current location and we will work with the traders to find a new, bigger and better, site in the district when it’s needed. We would not envisage work on the station starting before 2024-25 to be open for 2030.
“Over time the Interchange rail station would close with all train and bus services moving to the new St James station. The new station and Forster Square would be connected to each other as part of the West Yorkshire mass transit plan, integrating with the bus and road networks, as well as safe cycling and walking routes.
“This is an exciting development that I hope everyone in the district will see the advantages of and voice their support, so that the Government also backs it.”
Liz Barber, CEO of Yorkshire Water, said: “As a business that employs right across the region, we understand how labour markets work and how important it is that we have access to the right talent - but also, importantly, that they have access to us.
“Bringing together Leeds and Bradford to act as one economy, growing together and benefitting from the complementary strength of each another will be a fantastic enabler for growth in the region.”
Cllr Hinchcliffe added: "We are confident a new railway route and track can be identified and created – without affecting existing services and stations and with no disruption to travellers while it is constructed.
“We have a compelling case that shows Bradford city centre on a new line is the strongest of all shortlisted options from Manchester to Leeds – achieving the highest number of jobs, the most trips, the highest impact on the local economy and the greatest regeneration benefits.
“What more does the Government need to give us the green light for this transformational project?”