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Kirkgate Market major refurbishment. What will it involve?

December 9, 2014

4 big areas of Kirkgate Market (see map with the different parts of the Market here ) are being affected by the redevelopment currently under discussion:

  • 1976 hall – most stalls going from here – 114 permanent stalls are being removed to be replaced by a – yet undetermined – daily covered market with pop-up stalls, cafes and events area. All traders from the 1976 hall door down (where Greggs is- included) have given notice
  • Butcher’s road – This will be demolished and will be developed by a private developer in a separate project. It will be part of a “Kirkgate Village” new concept opening late hours and developed to lure in shoppers from the future posh shopping centre “Victoria Gate”. All traders from here will have to move elsewhere; Butchers should move to the newly refurbished “Fresh produce area”,  see below.
  • Shops facing George Street – All to be demolished as part of the “Kirkgate Village” project privately developed, see above. Still looking for a private developer.
  • Fish and Game Row – This area together with Row 2 will become a new “Fresh produce area”. To refurbish this area (heavy drains work needs doing) all current traders trading with food from Fish and Game Row will be temporarily displaced to Butchers row. It is unclear for how long. Some current traders in this new fresh produce area do not trade with food now (shoe and clothing shops for example) and will have to move elsewhere. It is unclear yet if any of the existing Butchers will actually move to the new area.
  • 1981 hall – 2 big blocks with several stalls to be demolished to make a new route. Traders here to be displaced.

What is happening to all these traders? We will be writing about this – so follow our blog to find out more and come to the plans panel meeting on Thursday 11th Dec 1.30 at Civic Hall  to find out. Information about this meeting here:


Kirkgate Market major refurbishment to be decided Thursday 11th Dec. Come to the meeting

December 9, 2014

There is a proposed £12.3m redevelopment project to take place in Kirkgate Market. Leeds City submitted a planning application in the summer. Friends of Kirkgate Market submitted an objection as we don’t believe the social and economic impacts of this redevelopment have been properly taken into consideration.

We will be repeating these concerns at the plans panel meeting  Thursday 11th December, which starts at 1.30 pm in Civic Hall. Here is the information.

Other members of the public and traders who submitted objections are also being invited to speak.

Everyone is invited to come. So come and support fellow Kirkgate Market lovers and traders

It’s Not Too Late to Comment on the Plans

September 26, 2014

Leeds City Council Planning Department is still open for comments on the refurbishment of Kirkgate Market.

A planning manager told FoLKM:

Although the 11th Sept is the expiration date of the statutory publicity period we are still able to take representations on the application. Therefore, I would encourage those who still wish to comment to submit their representations as soon as possible so they can be taken in to account as part of the process.

Let the council know. It’s easy to do. Go to the Council planning page, click on Comments (you will need to register) and express yourself in the space provided. Alternatively send an email to (putting Ref 14/04516/LA in the subject line) or send a letter to: Leeds City Council, Planning Services, Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, LS28HD, quoting Application number 14/04516/LA

No technical knowledge is needed; you can write about anything that bothers you about the plans: the rearrangement of the stalls, the creation of a daily covered market and event space, the lack of assurances about the outside market or, as many people have commented, the threat to the culture and atmosphere of the market. Here are extracts from some of the comments already submitted:

I think Kirkgate Market is a unique and valuable part of Leeds and I want to see it flourish. Of particular value is how the market serves all people,especially people with less money, different ethnic groups, people with disabilities, older people etc. The redevelopment should be looking to enhance this offer, not just maintain it.

The blatant gentrification of Kirkgate Market and the surrounding areas are insulting at a time when record numbers of families are accessing food banks, and living in food poverty. The people I work with do not need a John Lewis, they don’t need a Covered Daily Market and Event Space, they need to be able to buy cheap, healthy food in peace.

The market as it stands should be protected & promoted. It’s such a shame that the council seem intent on turning everything in the city centre into something bland & corporate. I can’t help but think about the damage done to the small businesses in the Corn Exchange a few years ago for what turned out to be a white elephant.

There is no clarity on the retention of the outdoor market, where I and many others do almost all my fruit and vegetable shopping. For me, a changing, but consistent outdoor market is a key aspect of its retail ‘offer’. I am very worried that there are no plans to keep or enhance it.

The idea of an events centre in the 1976 Hall I regard as an utter fantasy. Shopping isn’t really a branch of the entertainment industry…Also it is suggested in the planning documents that events will be programmed every day, all day. If this is to be the case, then a whole new team of staff will be needed to programme events. If this is what is envisaged, may I suggest that the money would be better spent organising a crèche.

By implementing these proposals, you risk destroying – or at least changing irrevocably – the unique selling point of Leeds market – its atmosphere. This is not something that can be conjured up out of a designer’s dream, however, but is something that – in Leeds – has built up decade after decade.

I like the market the way it is, is a great asset to Leeds both for visitors and residents. It is one of the few things that remain in this city with some character to it, please don’t change it.

Outsiders: Kirkgate Market outdoor traders demand rent reduction for construction disruption.

September 25, 2014

Today all Kirkgate Market outdoor traders signed a petition demanding a rent reduction. Leeds City Council agreed last week to slash Kirkgate Market traders’ rents by 20% to compensate them at least partly for the disruption caused by the building works, and the loss of trade caused by the car park closure. But this generous gesture did not apply to the Outside Market stallholders, who furthermore have to put up with the dust and noise from the Victoria Gate development. It’s only fair that the outdoor traders should get a similar rent reduction.

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

Bag a Bargain

September 9, 2014

A Friend of Leeds Kirkgate Market writes:
This is our Saturday morning weekly Kirkgate Market shop. We would normally have bought some cheese but I got some extra meat from the new Romanian shop. I buy my all milk and other loss-leaders from the local supermarket.

For a family of four, I spent £22.75. Meat/fish total – £12 or thereabouts. Veg total £10 or thereabouts:

  • 1 kg little orange peppers
  • 1 1/2 lb long red peppers
  • Big bunch of radish
  • 3 cucumber
  • 2 x big Yeo valley organic peach and apricot yoghurt
  • Half a pound home-made marinaded and smoked pork loin & half a pound of smoked sausage from the new Romanian shop at the bottom of butchers row.

[This is the most recent in a long tradition of new shops springing up in response to the new immigrant communities living in Leeds – The market adapts and changes much more quickly to changes in the population and demands of the city]

  • 1lb steak mince + 1/2lb pork mince

[From a butcher who has been in the market for more than 20 years. He had thought that he would continue to run his business until he was old enough to retire. The forced relocation of all the butchers will see their rents increase and is likely to force him out of the market]

  • 2lb new potatoes
  • 2 loaves of what my family consider the best bread in Leeds. Roughage bread from Cooplands (bottom of butchers row) (2 for £1)
  • 3lb broccoli
  • 1lb fresh green beans
  • Ten apples for packed lunch
  • 3 Packs of Hello Kitty mini rolls for packed lunch
  • Kilo of anchovy fillets in oil (£1.50!)

[The shop where these came from throws up similar quite bizarre bargains nearly every week. Also on offer on Saturday: 1 gallon of very fine Greek style yogurt £1.50]

Vent Your Feelings about the Future of Leeds Kirkgate Market. Do It Now!

August 31, 2014

The Council will soon discuss the plan for the redevelopment of Kirkgate Market. There has been plenty of token consultation where many of you have shown your disagreement and worries about these plans. However we need to make these worries public again or they simply won’t listen. So please comment on the current planning application. You don’t need to use technical knowledge or know everything about the issue. It is best if you describe how you feel the changes will affect you.

Whatever you feel, let the council know. It’s easy to do. Go to the Council planning page, click on comments (you will need to register) and vent your feelings in the space provided. Do it now, or the Council can say that everyone was happy, the plans will all go ahead, and it will be too late to change anything. Alternatively send an email to (putting Ref 14/04516/LA in the subject line) or send a letter to: Leeds City Council, Planning Services, Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, LS28HD, quoting Application number 14/04516/LA

It’s not too late to comment but it soon will be. Let them know how you feel. Here are some questions

  • Will these new plans safeguard the Council’s equality duty to the poor and vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled and ethnic minorities?
  • What do you think about the plans to link the Market to Victoria Gate with a grand entrance on George Street?
  • Will the butchers and fishmongers be able to occupy the same part of the market?
  • How do you feel about the 1976 hall being given over to day traders, and the Council’s intention to run a constant rolling programme of entertainments? Can you really combine showbusiness with shopping?
  • Will the outside market survive?

A Tale of Three Markets

August 16, 2014

Long, long ago in a not-so faraway land there were three villages a day’s walk from each other. Each had a church and a market cross where farmers brought their produce and pedlars sold their wares. As the years passed the villages grew into towns, each centred on the original village street which was called Kirkgate, meaning Church Road.
Industries grew up in the towns and people from the countryside moved in to work in the mills, followed by immigrants from all over the world. Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds became thriving multicultural cities and splendid market buildings were erected housing traders selling cheap food to the factory workers, exotic goods to the foreigners and quality produce to the emerging middle classes, right in the heart of the cities where of course the land was most valuable.
One day in 1970 a property developer came to Bradford Corporation and told them they needed to demolish their magnificent Victorian market hall and replace it with a shopping centre. Petitions by residents and protestations from luminaries such as Sir John Betjeman and JB Priestley cut no ice with the Council, who declared that the site “was not contributing its full potential to the shopping attractions of the city”. The market was pulled down and a dismal concrete shopping arcade was built in its place. The developer was John Poulson, later jailed for corruption.
Wakefield had already lost its market hall in the 1960s but a new market had grown up to inconvenience the council. One day in 2008 the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre offered to build a new market hall which would be a “milestone in the transformation of Wakefield”. Six years on, despite more petitions and protestations, it is being demolished and the market traders scattered randomly around the shopping precincts to “improve the vibrancy and viability of the city centre”.
Leeds still has its glorious market hall where all classes and nationalities can mingle while they shop, but the Council has aspirations to “rise in the retail rankings and “enhance the city centre environment” with the Victoria Gate development promising to bring a taste of luxury branding directly opposite the market. The building itself is now too iconic to demolish but it is all too easy to imagine a future Kirkgate Market as a purveyor of boutique, vintage and artisan goods while the community of customers is scattered to the discount sector, and the traders dispersed to some remote and unpopular site. It happened in Bolton. It happened in Sheffield. Don’t believe it can’t happen in Leeds.

6 Months Notice to leave for Kirkgate Market traders

August 13, 2014

Long before the plans have been approved, the traders in the 1976 hall, many of whom have been there for decades, have been given six months’ notice to vacate their stalls to make way for a Covered Daily Market and Event Space which will, according to the market management, “encourage interest and vibrancy not seen in this area”.

The traders, of course, see things differently. Many have lost a lot of business as a result of the car park fiasco and are now faced with having to find a new stall, probably at a higher rent and with additional expense for equipping it. Some will pull back to sister stalls in other parts of the market, some will take the money and leave and some will try to fight the decision, but none of them are happy. Even the traders in the surviving stalls are furious at the disruption.

This is no way to treat the people who have made millions of pounds for the Council over the years. The market is the only Council service that makes a profit.

At a recent meeting with Greg Mullholland MP, he was very sympathetic to FOLKM concerns. He agreed to make further enquiries on our behalf and he has now written to Martin Farrington, Director of City Development at Leeds City Council and contacted Sue Bentley, Judith Chapman, and Stewart Golton, Lib Dem councillors at Leeds City Council.

What we really need is some corrective action by the council – let us see if anything is forthcoming.


August 5, 2014

14_04516_LA-PROPOSED_SECTIOThe plans for the refurbishment of the Market are now available on the Leeds City Council Website.

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