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Save our Culture: FOLKM’s comments on the planned refurbishment of Kirkgate Market

September 10, 2014

Friends of Kirkgate Market is sending comments to Leeds City Council in reaction to their planned refurbishment of the Market. A planning application is for consideration and we all need to send our views. The formal deadline for this is tomorrow, Thursday 11th of September and you can send your comments either by email to: (putting Ref 14/04516/LA in the subject line) or by logging in the Council planning portal (see our previous post). Please feel free to draw from our text below to write your comment to the council.

FOLKM comments refer to the lack of consideration of the Market as a living and diverse place.

Kirkgate Market is unique in Leeds not only in its size and the splendour of its buildings but in the cultural, social and ethnic diversity of its traders and customers. The Local Authority has an obligation under the Public Sector Equality Duty not to erect barriers to vulnerable and minority groups but the planning documents give no evidence that the council has even considered these issues.

The National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out the government’s overarching planning policies on the delivery of ‘sustainable development’ through the planning system, emphasises that local planning policies should

guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs.

Many women, young people, older people, ethnic minorities and disabled people are dependent on the market yet the Equality Impact Assessment supplied with the plans does not explain how these groups will be catered for, beyond the provision of a disabled toilet and a vague commitment to “Child Friendly Leeds”. There appears to have been no attempt by the Council to determine the characteristics of the customers and traders, but surveys conducted by by FoLKM and Norfolk Property Services both indicated that the stallholders in the market were far more ethnically diverse than the general population of Leeds and that the customers were overwhelming drawn from the most deprived areas of the city.

To the people of Leeds, the market is far more than a “retail offer”; it is a place where relationships are forged and a sense of community built. This precious resource is threatened by the Council’s determination to link the market to the prestigious Victoria Gate development and by the introduction of a whole new class of transient traders in the 1976 Hall. There is evidence that rents will rise, making the market less affordable for those who need it most, and that a model of social inclusion will be lost forever.
See FOLKM comments to 14-04516-LA Kirkgate Market

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