Angry campaigners claim Leeds City Council plans for a £12m revival of Leeds Kirkgate Market are being forced through too quickly.
The Friends of Kirkgate Market (FOLKM) are to hold a public meeting tonight (March 7) - O’Neill’s Bar, Great George Street, at 6.30pm - less than a week before the major refurbishment is expected to be rubber stamped.
Members of the group are concerned that traders will face further suffering as council chiefs have put forward the plans without doing enough research.
The YEP revealed on Tuesday how the council have set aside a £12.3m fund to refurbish the market, which is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Plans to revamp the market will go before the council’s executive board on Wednesday March 13.
A spokesperson for FOLKM said: “It is being called the ‘kiss of life’ for the market, but is it more like the kiss of death?
“While investment into the market is welcomed very much after many years of simply not investing at all, it is not clear why a decision of this magnitude is potentially being pushed through next Wednesday without having either the necessary financial information or the right independent experts appointed to feed into the process.”
The group fears a hasty decision could store up problems for the future in a similar way to the problems currently being experienced at Clarence Dock.
The spokesperson added: “The position there was ‘it looked good on paper but assumptions and modelling were wrong’.
“How is this decision for Kirkgate Market going to be any different to that for Clarence Dock?
“This work needs the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the detail of the programme is worked through.”
Other concerns 0f the group include council chiefs refusing to rule out any rent rises once the proposed work is completed by 2016.
The new £12.3m plan could see the 1981 and 1976 buildings reroofed, create distinct zones and a central events space to attract shoppers.
The revamp will be funded by borrowing paid off by the market’s £1.4m annual profit and could also see the creation of a daily covered market.
It is hoped the outdoor market will stay the same, the frontage of George Street will be remodelled, while the whole project is aimed at complementing the new Eastgate Quarter, which is to feature a John Lewis.
Traders had feared the worst back in 2011 after the council was advised by consultants to shrink the market by a quarter.
If given the go-ahead, the proposed work could be finished by 2016.