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About Kirkgate Market


Treasure for the city of Leeds…

  • It employs around 2,000 people directly but many more indirectly and informally which makes an estimated 22% of the retail employees in the city centre

  • It is one of the biggest Markets in Europe

  • It has indoor and outdoor areas and traders sell everything from fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, mobile phones, clothing, homeware, drapery or stationary.

  • It is visited weekly by over 170,000 people from across Leeds and beyond although footfall is declining

  • Traders pay the highest rents in the North and amongst the highest in England according to an independent review.

  • It is owned and managed by Leeds City Council for whom it has made an annual profit of between £1-£2m for at least a decade

  • Research by Friends of Kirkgate Market shows that many people that rely on the Market come from the poorest neighbourhoods in Leeds

  • Shopping at the Market is considerably cheaper, more ethical and more environmentally friendly than shopping in big supermarkets

  • It is one of the few independent public spaces in the city centre

  • Kirkgate Market employs and supports many traders and customers from ethnic minorities from Leeds and functions as an important meeting point.

  • Research on markets nationally confirms that they are important public spaces of social interaction for those more vulnerable residents in our cities.

now suffering from mismanagement and on the brink of a major redevelopment project which will see many traders lose their stalls

  • Over the last 15 years there has been little investment in the Market with the building deteriorating significantly, affecting shoppers and traders’ experience.

  • Some areas of the Market have effectively been left to deteriorate so much that traders have left, contributing to a downward spiral.

  • At the same time new supermarkets have been allowed to open in the city centre and the big retailers and discount shops spend millions on attracting customers.

  • A mega-luxury shopping centre next to the Market opens in 2016 but its benefits are unclear. Disruption from its construction has caused irrepairable damage

  • Leeds City Council has finally decided to invest in the Market and borrow around £12m against future profit from traders’ rents.

  • FOLKM has serious concerns about this redevelopment project:

    • It will displace dozens of traders with no clear future in the Market

    • There has been a token consultation about this project and the public’s views have not been taken on board.

    • Traders have not been effectively involved and are disengaged from the process

    • It may lead to higher rents to recoup investment

    • Higher rents = higher prices = priced out poorer customers

Who are the Friends of Kirkgate Market?

  • It was born in April 2010 with a public meeting

  • It is made up of a regular group of citizens with up to 1,000 social media followers, “friends” and many traders.

  • It does not formally represent traders and is not related to any political party

  • Our aims are

  • to promote the Market as a socially diverse and inclusive space which can contribute beneficially to the local economy.

  • to demand a transparent management with traders at heart

  • To demand a reduction in unaffordable rents

What do Friends of Kirkgate Market do?

INFORMATION AND DISSEMINATION. We inform the public of ongoing issues and plans for the Market by reading in detail council documents and contrasting information with traders. We have:

  • Requested information under Freedom of Information Act

  • Put in the public domain information that was previously private

  • Demanded the Council to publish all their documents and be transparent

  • Kept the public informed through our social media, leaflets, newsletters and contacts with mainstream media.

PROMOTION OF THE MARKET. We promote the economic and social benefits of using the Market. We have

  • Run stalls in various festivals and events around Leeds

  • Held a “Shop at the Market week” with various artists and events

  • Publicised “price comparisons” between the Market and high street supermarkets showing how much more affordable the Market is

  • Collaborated with Leeds University Student Union to promote the Market amongst students.

PARTICIPATION IN COUNCIL’S GOVERNANCE PROCESSES. We interact with council officers and politicians, asking for information and contributing with our opinion to important decisions. We have:

  • Taken two “community deputations” to Full Council.

  • Participated in a Scrutiny Inquiry as witnesses

  • Collaborated in efforts to “call in” an Executive Board decision

  • Objected to the Victoria Gate shopping centre planning application where we provided evidence base on its negative impact for the Market

  • Regularly attend public council meeting and send memos in advance to councillors.


We collected 10,000 signatures asking for more investment, lower rents and meaningful power of traders in running the Market


*For more information about the History of Leeds Kirkgate Market see Burt, S. and Grady K.  Kirkgate Market: An Illustrated History 1992, Leeds Civic Trust and the Discovering Leeds website

Shopping at the Market is CHEAPER!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2012 3:45 pm

    Take heart from this extract about Covent Garden

    “The planners wanted to knock most of it down and build a new metropolis of through highways, hotels and conference centres. But a vigorous campaign by local residents and the general public prevented this vandalistic plan from going through. Instead, the market was renovated to become the popular shopping centre it is, and gradually the streets around became a mecca also for shoppers and for niche businesses. It was an amazing transformation”

    The whole of Kirkgate could be transformed with a little imagination from Leeds City Council


  1. 2010 in review « Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market

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