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Key facts about Leeds Kirkgate Market

April 27, 2010

A treasure for the city of Leeds…

Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the largest covered Markets in Europe and can be traced back as an open Market to the early 19th century.
•Most of the Market is now ‘listed’ by English Heritage due its special architectural and historic interest.*
•Some 1029 traders work in the Market and there are 420 indoor units alone
•Over 200,000 people from across Leeds and beyond visit the Market weekly
•Shopping at the Market is considerably cheaper, more ethical and more environmentally friendly than shopping in big supermarkets
•Supporting the Market benefits everyone with the annual profit – over £1million a year – reinvested by the Council across the City 

 …now suffering for years of decline, neglect and mismanagement

•In 1975 part of the Market was practically destroyed by fire and replaced by temporary stalls (the so-called 1976/1981 bottom area) that are now dated
•In the late 1980s a public campaign which more than a quarter of a million people signed up to forced the Council to abandon its proposed redevelopment of the Market that would have seen it relegated to the ground floor of a big shopping centre.
•High rents and service charges undermine traders businesses, the number of empty stalls has increased from 45 in 2005 to 70 in 2009. 
•Over the past 10 years the Council has spent just £760,000 on repair and maintenance – about one year’s income from the service charge paid by the indoor traders. Some years it has invested as little as £18,000.
•Despite a leaking roof in need of major repair, only £100,000 has been spent patching it up in these 10 years.
•Compare this with the £7million spent on re-paving and beautifying surrounding city centre streets in the last few years.
•Customer numbers are dropping – since 2006 about 25,000 less people come to the Market weekly (an 8.5% reduction).

The Council is finally starting to act, but much more needs to be done

•The Council has promised to invest £250,000 in the next 2 years
•A business support scheme has been introduced and a new manager is being sought
•Efforts to work in partnership with the traders have started and there are plans to form a consultative group but more needs to be done to use the valuable expertise of traders
•The fear remains that the Council is waiting for a new development opportunity once the property recession is over that could see the Market we love turned into just another shopping centre

*For more information about the History of Leeds Kikrgate Market see Burt, S. and Grady K.  Kirkgate Market: An Illustrated History 1993 and The Discovering Leeds website

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