COUNCIL bosses could be asked to look at entering a “commercial partnership” to run the historic Kirkgate Market in Leeds and reduce its size.
Consultants have produced a report on the future of the market which recommends an increase in delicatessens, arts and crafts stalls, and more “anchor stores” and says it should be reduced in size. Next week senior councillors in the city will be asked to agree, in principle, to the market being scaled back by 25 per cent.
The report, which recommends setting up at a Limited Liability Partnership to run the market, will be discussed by members of Leeds City Council’s executive committee when it meets next week.
At the meeting, on Friday, members will be asked to give the go-ahead to a study looking at future options for the council-run market.
It is proposed a feasibility report is given the go-ahead to consider a modern extension to replace the 1976, 1981 halls and George Street shops, for further refurbishment of the 1904 and 1875 halls and maintaining the outdoor market next to the indoor market.
As a contribution to the potential costs of redevelopment and refurbishment, it has been suggested £500,000 of the annual markets surplus is earmarked which will be used to finance feasibility work and additional borrowing.
Coun Gerry Harper, the council’s markets champion said: “We want to ensure that we take the opportunity to make the market the best is can possibly be, but we know this means a large amount of investment.
“One of the things we are looking at is to reduce the size of the market to enable us to work towards one of our goals of ensuring 100 per cent lettings.
“There are a number of options we still need to look into, but we want to ensure that we are able to improve conditions at the market for both tenants and customers so as we can attract more customers and tenants to the market.
“The market is being squeezed in the current financial climate and it is in need of refurbishment. Traders have warned the changes could mean they face an increase in overheads making it difficult to provide competitively priced goods and they don’t want to see it turned into a posh food hall.”