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Next Phase of Consultation – What’s Going On?

October 30, 2012

On the 15th October there was a meeting between Market Traders and Councillor Gerry Harper( ‘Market Champion’), Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council, NPS (consultants in charge of the recent study on options for redevelopment of the Market), and Market Management officers to discuss the next steps in the redevelopment of the Market. More than 50 market traders attended. The session included a display of the Council’s future redevelopment plans for Kirkgate Market and the outline of possible management options and elements for possible consideration. The display has been made available to all market traders and the general public in Unit 8 at the market from 16th October. Partly thanks to our insistence all these documents are available here: http://www.leedsmarkets.co.uk/strategy

Key points stated by Market management and councillor Harper were:

  • LCC planned to retain the open market –      adjacent to the indoor market, but not clear in what form or where      exactly.
  • LCC are convinced that the Eastgate      Development and John Lewis does not pose a risk to the market in any way      and continue to talk about it in terms of opportunity
  • More investment was needed in the market – but      the proposed options were not costed and LCC have not said how much they      would invest
  • The Market currently provides £1.7m profit to      LCC – but it had been more in the past
  • It is a valued, treasured, sleeping giant

12 elements for redevelopment under consideration are:

1. Fixing Basics
2. Replacing roof of 1976 and 1981 Halls
3. Heating and Cooling
4. Finding your way round
5. Creating Zones
6. Creating a Heart
7. Creating new routes through the market
8. Layout
9. Improving look and feel of market
10. Reducing the size
11. Improving George street
12. Improving Public External Space

It is interesting to note that the consultants, NPS, did not think that reducing the size was something that should be proposed given the responses from the consultation.

At the meeting there was reference to the 3,000 responses from the public to the survey that members of the public had filled in but no explanation of how many had made particular suggestions, so there is no clarity on how those responses had fed into the options. We have now seen the questionnaire response and full report and can report that only 70 people out of nearly 3000 who filled in the questionnaires said they thought the market should be made smaller. We will be looking into why it has therefore “made it” into these 12 “elements”.

As well as options for redevelopment the Council has also suggested 7 different management options with the premise that LCC want to retain income and profits from the Market

  • No Change – which they said they would not accept
  • Managed by the Council – but a mgmt board in place and the operational monies      ring-fenced.
  • Arms Length Management Organisation – company set up to manage the market owned by council
  • Civil Enterprise –  An ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) as above but traders have a      25% share
  • Management Contract – a private company manged by the market
  • Social Enterprise – Traders set up a new company, with a social purpose to manage the market
  • Limited Liability Partnership – Council set up a joint venture company with a (this option  was one that was put forward in the controversial Quarterbridge report and which the council seemed to back away from it very quickly. It’s interesting that an option which could see the council lose control of the market has resurfaced again here)

Concerns raised by traders at this meeting were: discussion on redevelopment has been going on for years but nothing has happened; contradictory information told to different groups of traders; timetable of consultation coinciding with run up to Christmas; little in the redevelopment plans on marketing and attracting new traders; rents being too high; lack of affordable car parking only to be made worse with the Eastgate redevelopment.

Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market hare busy looking at the background documents that explain how NPS and Leeds City Council have arrived to these different options and there is no sense of how much they cost or how much the council might spend. So for the moment we are studying these options and we will comment on them more fully as soon as possible.

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