Plans for £12.3m overhaul of historic market unveiled amid trader protests

Council chiefs have unveiled draft plans for a £12.3m revamp of Leeds Kirkgate Market.

The plans include combining the existing fish, game and butchery areas to create a fresh food zone, making new pedestrian routes, a central events space and creating a section off George Street that will open into the evening.

The unveiling came hours after traders claiming Leeds City Council’s plans employ “mad market maths” protested outside Leeds Civic Hall.

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David Gardner, from scheme designers IBI Taylor Young architects, explained the 24- to 30-month construction will be phased to limit disruption to traders.

He said: “This is the opportunity to actually fix things for the next 20 to 25 years.”

Work will first start on the 1976 Hall, where all fixed units will be removed to create a covered daily market and interactive events space that could host everything from demonstrations to shows for 300 people. The roofing, 
toilets and air conditioning 
facilities will also be given an overhaul.

Martin Farrington, the council’s director of city development, said: “We are planning for a sustainable life for the market and a market that reflects the needs of the people of Leeds.”

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At a briefing yesterday, council officers said a “substantial part” of the £1.6m partially earmarked for urgent repairs of the market will go on consultancy fees to develop the revamp’s design, while only necessary repairs will be done and any money left over will not be lost to the project.

Coun Richard Lewis, the council’s lead member for development, said: “To date we have undertaken electrical work to a number of stalls and further maintenance work will be carried out in the coming months.”

Julie Badon, of the Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market, said the investment pledged for repairs before February 2014 has yet to be delivered.

She said: “There’ll be a large number of traders that will 
hand in their notices at Christmas.” She also said the council’s model of using market profits to pay off the revamp was ill 
thought out as traders are wanting to leave.

Draft plans will go to the council’s executive board in December, before detailed plans are submitted subject to months of consultation next year.