RENTS at Leeds’s Kirkgate Market are to be slashed by 20 per cent to compensate traders for disruption during a multi-million pound refurbishment of the historic facility.
Leeds City Council’s cabinet last night rubber-stamped the plan – as revealed by the YEP earlier this year – which will see rents cut from October 1 until September 2015.
At yesterday’s meeting, the council’s decision-making executive board also agreed to pay £100,000 to allow for the temporary relocation of Fish and Game Row traders during more extensive works as part of the £12m refurbishment.
The council says it is keen to ensure that as much of the market as possible remains open and trading during the period of construction.
The inevitable disruption from these works means the fish and game row area will need to close temporarily, bosses say.
To combat this, the council is offering affected traders alternative accommodation in vacant units alongside other fresh food traders on the existing Butchers’ Row. It is hoped this will enable the works to be completed in one go, minimising disruption for traders.
Councillor Richard Lewis, the council’s executive board member for transport and the economy said: “It is essential that we improve Kirkgate Market to make it more attractive to today’s customers and traders, and to build on the many distinct advantages the market already has.
“We are aware however, that any project of this scale is going to cause disruption, and therefore we are putting plans in place early on to ensure we minimise disruption to traders and customers alike during this time of exciting change.”
As reported in the YEP previously, relations between stallholders and the council have been strained in recent months, amid uncertainty about disruption during the refurbishment period and the future of the market after the arrival of the Victoria Gate development.
It was also claimed the closure of the main car park near the market, to make way for initial construction work on Victoria Gate, had caused some traders’ takings to slump by up to 40 per cent. Yesterday’s meeting heard that there have been regular meetings between council market bosses and lobbying group FOLKM (Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market) in recent weeks and the view was that supporters and traders were “pleased” with the move to reduce rents.