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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


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.

Amazing Minutes from a March 2014 Council/Traders Meeting

July 25, 2014

freeparkingWith new surprises and shocks being unveiled nearly every day by market management, it’s a pleasant surprise to see them being so open in other ways.

Here’s something we found on the market strategy pages. The Council don’t often post documents on these pages, and when they do they often mysteriously vanish, but this one, dating from just a couple of weeks before the car park closed, shows how right the traders were to be concerned and how slow the Council has been to act on their own recommendation:

It was felt that to aid traders, clear signage should be erected to assist customers to the nearest car park and it was asked that the council should consider subsidising customer car parking.

In the last few days, leaflets have been distributed and banners hung from lamp-posts in the city centre announcing £2 off parking in the NCP car park for customers who spend £5 in the market and 20 minutes’ free parking in the loading bays in George Street, and now the Council have announced a 20% rent reduction (subject to approval) for stallholders.

Let’s hope that while they finally pay attention to what they were told four months ago, they also keep up with the openness and leave the link there; if not here’s the document in full:
2014 03 24 Notes of Trader Meeting

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