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Eastgate megaproject approved but Market ‘must be integrated’

July 12, 2011

The Eastgate mega shopping centre that is proposed to be built by developer Hammerson next to Kirkgate Market gained planning permission on the 7th of July. Councillors on the Plans Panel (central) voted to go ahead with an outline planning application which confirms the basic principles of the project but all the details still need to be negotiated.

Thanks to our objection and 188 other objection letters many from traders and supporters of FOLKM the Market won’t be ignored in the design of the project. Some councillors and Kevin Grady from the Civic Trust agreed with our comments that the rerouted traffic on George Street due to the pedestrianisation on Eastgate might be too heavy to allow easy crossing between Eastgate project and the Market, that the Market might be relegated to be the back of the new “Eastgate Quarter”, that the proposed John Lewis building does not relate to the Market and that the contributions from the developer (Section 106) should be greater towards the Market (not just few parking spaces as it is proposed at the moment). Hammerson will have to go back to the drawing board and address these issues which will be assessed again in a new planning application for the so-called “Reserved matters” (all the design details). Coun Jarosz asked for this Plans Panel (even if beyond its remit) to put pressure on other parts of the council for new investment in the Market so that the market is not just surviving but thriving by the time Eastgate opens. Councillor Blackburn proposed to seriously look at the developer contributions in favour of the Market. These issues will now have to be considered by Hammerson.

Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market had opposed this project because we think it will have a negative impact on the Market if no new investment is planned for Kirkgate Market. Our objection has been explained before and you can read it all here and here. Officers and some councillors claim that relying on the fact that thousands of people could potentially visit this new shopping centre and possibly pop in the market to have a look might be enough to claim its positive impact on the Market. We believe this is irresponsible. And Hammerson agrees with us. At a meeting we had with Hammerson in May, Joe Swindells development manage for Easttgate admitted that even Hammerson did not believe that Eastgate would benefit the market in its current state. He said “Obviously there needs to be some serious investment in the buildings but that is not an issue for us – that’s for Leeds Council”

We were not surprised by the unanimous vote by councillors in favour of this project. We know that officers, politicians and Hammerson have been working side by side for years for this project to get through. We got confirmation of this kind of cosy relationship in a response we had to a Freedom of Information request on meetings between the council and Hammerson (here only the meetings that related to Kirkgate Market are listed). Hammerson, for example, has also sponsored the Leeds City Region’s trip to the real estate fair MIPIM  in Cannes in 2011 and took councillors on trips to visit their developments in Sheffield and Birmingham, with the specific aim to see the impact on those Markets there, but traders were not invited. Councillors therefore have been heavily exposed to Hammerson views and opinions while the public has been engaged via a bureaucratic process of submitting a written objection to a planning application of thousands of pages. Megaprojects like Hammersons are actually in line with the condem coalition’s agenda of “growth” were practically any development should be allowed by default.

We will be watching carefully Hammerson’s plans and updating you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Gareth permalink
    July 14, 2011 8:15 pm

    Do FOKM object to Eastgate in outline? Or just some aspects of it which can be addressed? I cannot believe anyone seriously thinks a well designed Eastgate will be worse for the market than a rubble car park next door?!

  2. July 15, 2011 9:15 am

    Thanks for your coment. You are assuming that Eastgate is or will be well designed which is a big assumption. Another assumption that we have not seen any proper evidence for is that the Market will simply benefit from more people coming from this part of town. Our view is that is you are going to build a corporate big shopping centre next to a traditional independent/local retail outlet which has suffered from underinvestment for years then you need to plan some proper investment in it. At the moment all we can hear from the council is that Eastgate will solve the Market’s problems without any additional investment on it. This is irresponsible. The people that potentially come to the new shopping centre might not have any market to go to visit by 2016!
    Plus we are not saying that the car parks at the moment are a good thing; we have not commented on that. The fact that this area of town is underinvested and neglected has a lot to do with waiting for a developer to come and design a new piece of town for us. Hammerson have been buying up property in the area for years and evicting businesses – which partly explains why the area is empty now.

  3. Peace permalink
    July 18, 2011 10:52 am

    I have read the councils response to your FOI request regarding the market.

    It appears they were planning a redevelopment of the market to coincide with the initial outline planning application to redevelop Eastgate. I guess these plans went quiet because of the uncertainty on whether the first outline application for Eastgate would be delivered.

    Have the council indicated whether these plans will now resurface? Will John Thorp be involved (when he retired he stated he would be involved in some schemes still)? As the Eastgate Jobcentre is no longer part of the redevelopment can we assume that their Jobcentre will not be relocated to the market?

    In addition, Ian Bath Planning are acting on behalf of Caddick for the Quarry Hill redevelopment and Rushbond for Crispin House. Their comments regarding the scheme have mainly focussed on connectivity and quality of the architecture – especially the car park. Due to the synergies in your needs are you collobarating with your fellow neighbours? CABE also expressed reservations on the size and massing of the car park.

    What are FOLKMs views on the revised public transport and highways plans for the Eastgate application? This was reviewed due to pressure from yourselves but I have not seen your latest views.

    • July 19, 2011 4:28 pm

      Thanks for your comments. We have thought about links with Quarry Hill but not really talked to the planning consultants or anything like that. Might be an idea. Plans for a redevelopment of the Market were indeed considered in 2007 and there was even a public consultation although apparently Hammerson would not have been interested in getting involved…We don’t know of any redevelopment plans for the market as the council keeps saying there is no money but we are waiting for a new Markets Strategy to be presented at Executive Board next week.
      I am not sure that Hammerson has revised the transport and highways plan. We know that they have done further research and provided more detail after our expressed concerns and councillors also showed concerns at the plans panel meeting but we think that any of these details will be discussed later on with a new application for the Researved Matters. But let us know if you know different.


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