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FoLKM’s Speech to the Planning Committee

December 12, 2014

FOLKM are objecting to this planning application on the grounds that it fails to properly consider the negative social impact of its proposed redevelopment. To be sure, we are in favour of much needed investment in the building, but our worry is  how the change in the BUILDING will affect PEOPLE. The need to consider this social impact is not just driven by a sense fairness but is a fundamental legal duty on the public sector. The council is obliged to carefully consider how any changes will impact particularly on “protected categories”  which include: the elderly, women, those with disabilities, ethnic minorities all of whom are more likely to be in low incomes.

It’s evident that these are the groups that currently benefit particularly from the Market economically and socially and they are the ones that the council is legally responsible to protect from any negative impacts.

What do we think the negative impacts will be?

  1. The majority of traders that have been forced to move will face higher rents. FACT. For example Butchers now paying £34.5 psf will have to pay £47.5. (more than 35% increase)
  2. Council documents state that the refurbishment is being seen as an opportunity to increase income and that rents will increase to reflect this work.
  3. As a result Higher rents in the redeveloped Market will drive traders and those more vulnerable customers out.
  4. Dozens of traders are being displaced by this redevelopment as existing businesses don’t find a new appropriate stall at an affordable rent. The loss of particular traders will of course have an impact on those groups who rely on them.

Councillors will know that after we submitted our objection the council was asked to re-write their Equality Impact Assessment. However the revised impact assessment still does not offer any guarantees to mitigate against these negative impacts on vulnerable communities, particularly when it comes to the hundreds of thousands of market users.

FOLKM (and many others) are genuinely worried about the gentrification of the Market and we know this term has become quite controversial. To be sure, we know that gentrification is not something that any local authority sets out to do. However, as lots of research shows redevelopment of any building or area can easily lead to gentrification if robust measures are not put against it. In numerous meetings, communications and documents we have discussed with market management how changes in the building, rents, composition of traders can marginalise those more vulnerable groups in Leeds but there has been no action taken to even acknowledge this risk. The council is in denial. Just saying “we don’t want to gentrify” the Market won’t protect those in lower incomes that rely on it.

But the council is not only ignoring a risk is also ignoring an opportunity. 100,000 people visit the Market every week many of which come from the most deprived wards in Leeds. They have little money to spend on food, they are experiencing fuel poverty, isolation, multiple health inequalities, learning difficulties. These are the people that the council has statutory obligations towards and the Market is now a place to reach them but we should protect and build on this.

FOLKM want to see investment and improvement in the Markets BUILDING but not at the expense of the PEOPLE that use and work in the Market. What we are saying is put the PEOPLE first, not the BUILIDNG.

Will rents be higher in Kirkgate Market after the redevelopment?

December 10, 2014
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One of the issues that worry most people is whether rents will be higher once the redevelopment project is complete.
Leeds City Council has explained that “there is no intention” to raise rents in “existing units” in Kirkgate Market. This does not actually answer the issue as the council is only referring here to traders that will not have to move because of the redevelopment. But what will happen to those affected by the redevelopment?

  • Most traders who are forcibly displaced and have to find a new stall will find that most of the offered stalls’ rents will be higher. For example the butchers moving from the existing Butchers row to the new Fresh Food area will have to pay around 30% more rent on top of costs for fitting their new stall (for which they will get some help from the council).
  • We don’t know yet the rents for the proposed new Daily Covered Market (which replaces the 1976 hall fixed stalls) but previous documents from the council suggest that this space “Can be let at a premium thereby safeguarding rental income” (Investment Case, page 8 )
  • Again we don’t know what rents would be like in the new “Kirkgate Vilage” area but this area is clearly seen as an area with an “opportunity to create further income” (Investment Case, p.19) becoming a “quality shopping street” to attract Victoria Gate shoppers.

All this suggest that for most of the displaced traders that find a new stall, rents will be higher. And for probably all the new traders in the covered hall and Kirkgate Village rents will be higher than there had been before. Overall there will be higher rents in the new areas of the Market which will the stepping stone to ask for increments in the future.

Is this the start of gentrification?

Dozens of traders in Kirkgate Market will be permanently or temporarily displaced

December 10, 2014

What is happening to traders who would be losing their stall as part of the Kirkgate Market redevelopment project?

The big changes proposed for Kirkgate Market  amount to dozens of traders, (perhaps up to 50 or more -the council has never revealed this figure), being permanently or temporarily displaced. As a result, FOLKM knows, at least more than half of them are leaving the market.

The council claims that they are trying to relocate them in phases into the existing vacant units in the Market but there are not as many empty units as traders displaced. A bidding process is taking place where only the displaced traders are allowed to participate. However this is riddled with problems and the bidding process itself was been described as “very poor” by one of the traders. Here are some of the problems:

  • Some stalls have been in their current location for more than 30 years and changing location in the Market is a very big risk.
  • What is more it is very difficult to find a same size unit which will mean substantially changing the business and perhaps letting staff go.
  • Some of the offered units have been empty for a long time which reflects their poor location.
  • It is also hard for traders to choose a new location without knowing how that new stall will perform in the new refurbished market.

And this is just for those with “permanent” leases. It is unclear what is happening to those in temporary leases.

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: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=947&MId=6988&Ver=4

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. http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=947&MId=6988&Ver=4

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

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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 planning@leeds.gov.uk (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

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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.

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