Traders have spoken out against plans to move stalls on the outdoor market to make way for a car park.
Leeds City Council has put forward an application to its own planning authority which will see the removal and relocation of some of the stalls to make way for a car park that will have 42 spaces.
Long-standing stalls will be affected by the proposals, which are part of a drive to increase footfall at the Kirkgate Market and make it more accessible,
However, stall-holders in the bottom section of the outdoor market say their businesses will be hampered by the move and question the reasoning behind the proposal as they argue that nearby car-parks aren’t anywhere near full as it is.
Shaun Dolan runs a fruit and veg stall that has been trading in his family on the market for 70 years.
He said: “We don’t actually know what is going on. We are getting told they will take our row to make a car park for 40 cars which does not seem right. The other car park is empty. Then they have said they are moving us inside the market, but we won’t fit. Fruit and veg stalls start at 4am and we can’t even get in because it is locked. I have also heard that the council has sold the land - so who is telling the truth?
“We don’t want to move. we have been moved quite a few times in the last few years. Is this car park for the hotel they are building? They say it will be for customers but how do they know who is a customer and who is not? The job is hard enough as it is and we need help.”
Mark Olbison: “They are ruining the bloody place, let me tell you.
“They are taking away half of the market to make way for 40 cars, it is ridiculous. They have left us in the dark and it will damage trade. People know where we are, we have been here for years all the lot of us and they have decided to move us - it is stupid and they want to give their heads a shake - it is a disgrace.”
Meanwhile, another trader added: “Get on with it I say, it can’t get any worse.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “As part of our significant redevelopment strategy at Leeds Kirkgate Market, we have supported the proposal put forward by trader representatives to build a new short-stay, visitor car park. Both indoor and outdoor traders were fully consulted last year on the plans with a majority supporting the idea. Their feedback on the design of the car park has also been invaluable, and played an important part in helping us to accommodate, where possible, their individual needs.
“We have worked extremely hard to ensure that any stalls that need to be removed as part of the redevelopment work are kept to an absolute minimum. Any trader with an outdoor stall affected by the redevelopment will still be able to operate on the outdoor market. We would like to stress, that there are absolutely no plans to move the outdoor market inside.”
The council added that 214 traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market were consulted on the car park proposal. 64 per cent supported the proposal, 23 per cent were against, 12 per cent were not sure and 1 per cent did not respond.
Last year all traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market, covered and outdoor, were given rent reductions for six months, after complaining about reduced takings due to the disruption caused by a £14m refurbishment of the Grade I listed building and its services.
Kirkgate Market, Europe’s largest covered market with more than 300 indoor and 185 outdoor stalls, was built over six years from 1875 to 1881. By the 1950s the market had over 400 traders and over 100,000 shoppers visited the complex every Saturday.
In more recent times in a bid to make the market more viable, a food, drink and event space.