Traders have been forced to shut up shop in Huddersfield as a huge new scheme sees one of its popular shopping centres torn down.

The Piazza shopping centre is set to be torn down for the town’s big regeneration scheme called the Huddersfield Blueprint. The area makes up what is being called “Our Cultural Heart” and will eventually have a food hall, library, museum and gallery in the place of the Piazza buildings, when all phases of the redevelopment are complete.

But, the huge new scheme – although exciting for Huddersfield – has seen a number of traders forced out of the shopping centre, some shut for good and others tirelessly hoping to find someone new to move to. However, the cost of rent in Huddersfield town centre is proving a battle for many traders.

Read more: Fed-up Huddersfield shop workers hit out at disgusting dog owners letting pets poo outside store

Rachel and Vicky from Balloon People, inside the Piazza arcade, have said the prices in Huddersfield are making it difficult for them to find somewhere to move their shop to. Vicky said: “They [Kirklees Council] don’t tell us anything. It [the closure] has not affected us that much to be honest because we get a lot of our sales online, but it is not great. A lot of our business comes through social media or online, we get questions at 11pm on Facebook sometimes.

“We won’t be closing we will just be moving shops. We are wanting to stay in the town centre but a lot of sites are asking a lot of money for rent. That is why there are so many empty shops in the town centre because people can’t afford the rent they are asking for. It is not just the council, there are a lot of private owners that are asking too much too. They are not going to get anyone in [to rent].

“When you walk inside the centre there is nothing here. Superdrug is now going so there will be nothing left.”

Rachel (left) and Vicky (right) from Balloon People
Rachel (left) and Vicky (right) from Balloon People
(Image: Gerard Binks)

Walking through the arcade feels quite eerie as most the shops have already shut and all that stands in the once thriving centre is boarded up windows and dormant units.

One shop worker, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s so sad what is happening to this town. It all started when we lost British Home Stores then Marks and Spencer and it is just all going downhill from there really. I came into town shopping yesterday and couldn’t believe how little there was, it shocked me.

“The footfall in the shops has dropped massively and most places are already closed. The café went in October then the rest have gone over Christmas. It is so sad.”

Julia Roebuck from Thread Republic, a social enterprise hub with a textiles and haberdashery store and workshop space, based at the Piazza, is feeling positive about the move. However she claims that if it wasn’t for her being fortunate enough to sublet from another business moving shops staying in the town centre would not be an option for them because of the high rent prices. She said: “We have had this space for around one year, we knew the closure was coming.

The Piazza Arcade is now full of empty shops as it awaits demolishment
The Piazza Arcade is now full of empty shops as it awaits demolishment
(Image: Megan Banner)

“Luckily we are subletting off the West Yorkshire Print Workshop who are based next door when they move into the old Poundstretcher shops which closed. If it wasn’t for us having a really good relationship with them and being able to sublet we would have no other option because the rent prices are just too much.”

However, Julia has said they are excited for the move as it will make space for an important cultural and creative expanse, which she says is much needed in the town. She said: “We are excited for the move, we are feeling good for the move. It will be good to have more of a creative space for people.”

What are your thoughts on the plans? Let us know in the comments!

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