Plans for a new northern food hub take a step forward

The current St James Wholesale Market site

Bradford Council has signed an Option to Purchase unused former landfill land at Staithgate Lane to build a new, larger, northern food hub to replace its current St James Wholesale Market.

St James Market is already the biggest wholesale market site in Yorkshire and the North East.

This latest phase means the council can push ahead with ambitions to develop a more accessible modern wholesale market which would create more jobs and strengthen the local and regional food distribution network.

The current wholesale market is fully let and the land at its present location is at maximum capacity.

Bradford Council says the new site satisfies the demand from existing businesses for expansion and gives opportunities for additional businesses to open.

The existing market supports over 30 small and medium size businesses and is on an eight-acre site on the edge of the city centre, off Wakefield Road.

It generates about £50m turnover per annum and provides employment for over 400 people, supplying hotels, restaurants, cafes, takeaways and catering suppliers as well as independent supermarkets, shops and market stalls.

The signing of the Option to Purchase document means the council can go ahead with its vision to transform the St James business from the traditional model of a wholesale market to develop a massive food distribution centre.

The facility at Staithgate Lane would create a Northern Food Hub with fresh and processed foods including meat, fish and fruit and vegetables as well as a bakery and flowers from a site with fully modernised infrastructure.

It will also allow the existing site to be redeveloped as part of the council’s Southern Gateway growth area, as this is the preferred site for a new high-speed railway station as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “We have huge ambitions for the Bradford district including being the leading clean growth city district and creating this new larger, greener modern food hub serving the whole of northern and central England and beyond forms part of that plan.

“Relocating from the current St James market site frees up land in the city centre for a much-needed through station in the city centre which Prime Minister Liz Truss recently pledge commitment to.

“Delivering on that commitment would be an important step towards truly ‘levelling up’ the north.”

Nigel Jenney at Fresh Produce Consortium, which includes some of the country’s top food & flower importers and growers, added: “The signing of the Option to Purchase for this land to create a northern food hub is a significant move and would promote food security and a streamlined supply chain.”