Leeds Kirkgate Market visitors boost

Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
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Kirkgate Market is bucking the trend of high street doom and gloom – with the number of visitors on the UP.

Leeds council figures show that footfall has increased by four per cent in recent weeks.

The upturn is being partly put down to a range of initiatives to attract new customers.

A “shop and drop” scheme allowing customers to pick up produce in the morning and collect it after work has been a success, winning a national award, with the market nominated for two retail awards.

Council bosses are also working closely with students during freshers’ week to attract them to the market.

The increase in numbers comes as the council moves forward with the next phase of plans to secure the long-term future of the market.

In recent years, traders and the Friends of Kirkgate Market, a support group, have criticised rent levels and claimed the market has suffered from a lack of investment.

Work is soon to start on essential maintenance, including roof repairs and improvements to the electrics and ventilation systems, costing £200,000.

The council is to employ consultants to help shape the market’s long-term future.

The specialists will advise on the optimum size of the market, as well as the potential for securing investment for renovation, possibly in partnership with the private sector.

Coun Gerry Harper, deputy executive member for city development, said: “The fact we are already investing significant sums of money in the market is indicative of the council’s long-term commitment to the building, which is the jewel in the city’s retail crown.

“It can’t be denied that there are still vacant stalls, however, occupancy rates are higher than on many high streets, and footfall in the market is increasing while it is falling elsewhere.

“The temporary extensions were never designed to last as long as they have and need millions of pounds of investment to bring them up to standard.

“Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the council doesn’t have the capital available to carry out this work.

“Add to this that the 1976 building is currently under-occupied, so it is questionable whether it would be worth spending any further money on this section before a final decision is made on its future.

“We have not made any final decisions yet but I know there is uncertainty among traders so we want to ensure that they and the public are informed of the progress we’re making.”

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