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Why is Eastgate a Threat to the Market?

According to the developer and the Council, the Eastgate development will bring lots of new jobs to Leeds, transform a derelict area and increase tourism. The Market, they say, will benefit from the additional customer footfall this will bring. But we think that Eastgate as currently proposed will come at a major cost for two main reasons. First, contrary to the developer’s PR spin about transforming a site “derelict for 40 years”, it will mean the demolition of most of the existing Eastgate Terraces and iconic buildings like the Lyons Works Factory. As this Yorkshire Evening Post article from 2009 shows, the scheme has already decimated Leeds’ small Chinatown area and caused misery for some small businesses affected by Compulsory Purchase Orders. Second, the proposed changes to the city’s transport system along with the design and scale of Eastgate pose a major threat to the future of Leeds Kirkgate Market.

Following the September 2010 public consultation event, we outlined some of these concerns here. Now that we have read the outline planning application, we believe there are six main reasons to be worried:

1. Traffic chaos – by pedestrianising all roads in the Eastgate Quarter, much of the existing traffic will be re-routed to travel around the Market, turning it into a very congested and polluted traffic island. George Street, which runs along the Northern edge of the market, will not only become a major bus corridor hosting at least 75 buses an hour, but also a key servicing and customer pick-up area for the proposed John Lewis store. The resulting traffic will act as a major blockage to Market customers and will turn the Markets area into a more polluted, unsafe and unattractive environment.

2. Car parking and trader servicing – the Market will lose the benefit of the 400 space short-stay car park on George Street right next door, which will be relocated to a new multi-storey car park some 500 metres from the Market, representing a 1km round-trip and a major drawback for potential customers. The York Street NCP car park is a rip-off, charging a minimum of £5. George Street is also one of the traders’ key servicing points but they will be negatively affected by the changes to public transport and the competition for loading bays from the new retailers in the Eastgate Quarter.

3. Heritage undermined– the Market’s beautiful and unique architectural heritage embodied in the Grade 1 Listed top part will not be preserved and enhanced by the Eastgate Quarter; instead, it will be over-shadowed by a John Lewis store up to 68 metres towering over the market, and subjected to increased levels of destructive emissions.

4. Poor connectivity – although the developer claims that Eastgate will “encourage pedestrian linkages between this part of the city centre to Kirkgate Market”, the proposed design will effectively shut pedestrians off from much of the Markets area. George Street will be dominated by moving vehicles and the Markets will be visually impaired by the height of the Eastgate development buildings, the lack of straight visual lines and the double decker buses that will be permanently in front of the Markets.

5. Construction disruption – the Market will be literally right next door to a building site for at least 42 months – some 1092 shopping days – meaning dirt, dust, noise, construction vehicles, the closure of the neighbouring George St car park and road closures that will severely disrupt both traders and customers.

6. Ruinous and unfair competition – putting 130 new retail units right next door to the Markets, including rival food halls in the new John Lewis – which will be directly opposite the Markets – and the new Marks and Spencer, will undoubtedly harm many of the Markets’ existing businesses and stalls. This will be corporate retail business and modern facilities unfairly competing with small independent businesses struggling to survive in a deteriorating Market infrastructure that is being continually denied investment from its Council owner.

We have provided more evidence to back up our concerns in our objection to Eastgate statement.

1. What is Eastgate?
2. Why is Eastgate a Threat to the Market?
3. What are the wider concerns about Eastgate?
4. How can we challenge the Eastgate scheme to protect the Market?

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