Report on future of Leeds Kirkgate market sparks fears

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A consultant’s report drawn up to help shape the future of Leeds’s historic Kirkgate Market has come under fire just days after its publication.

Traders and councillors have raised a string of concerns over the report whose key recommendations include reducing the size of the market, handing control to a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – effectively a limited company – and granting the LLP a 99-year lease.

It puts forward two possible redevelopment options. Under the preferred one, the 1976 building would be demolished and replaced with a new market hall and service basement.

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The 1981 building would then be knocked down and the outdoor market relocated onto the site.

The current outdoor market site would then be available for redevelopment.

The report says the plans put forward allow for a “tenant reselection process” and tenants reselected may be relocated to a different part of the market.

It has been suggested investment in the market of about £30m would be needed, with private sector partners providing £20m and the council £10m.

Liz Laughton, a market trader, told the council’s Regeneration Scrutiny Board: “The report shows no understanding of what a market is. Its sole interest is in raising the maximum return for the partners.”

She warned that traders could face a massive increase in overheads making it difficult for them to provide competitively priced goods.

Board members agreed to forward a range of concerns to the council’s Executive Board, which next month will discuss the report produced by Quarterbridge Project Management Ltd.

They include insufficient exploration of other management models, the idea of tenant reselection and the length of the suggested lease, which at 99 years was judged “inappropriate”.

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