Market traders have welcomed rent at Leeds Kirkgate Market being slashed by 20 per cent, though many fear the reduction wont cover their losses.
The move comes as Leeds City Council’s £12m upgrade of the market building rolls forward. The rent reduction, which is yet to be rubber-stamped by the council’s cabinet, is expected to last a year from October.
It is the latest attempt by the authority to appease stallholders amid uncertainty over how the revamp will disrupt trade when businesses claim to be losing money due to the loss of its main car park, which made way for construction of nearby Victoria Gate. The council responded with cut-price parking for shoppers at a private car park.
Owner of the T.E. Bethell fish shop, Sue Leeming, said: “We’ve dropped 40 per cent due to the car park and they’ve offered us 20 per cent, it just wont cover it. I’m hoping once it is rebuilt it will become a busy little place but we’ve got to survive the next two years first.”
Stephen Myers, of S Myers Seafood Specialist, feels the market is lacking footfall. He said: “If we are taking money and footfall goes back to what it used to be the rent is irrelevant – Trinity has phenomenal rents.”
Leo Burke, owner of Mr Meats, claims his takings have dropped 30 per cent and will close his firm of 24 years fearing rent rises following the revamp.
Welcoming the temporary rent relief, he said: “It’s sad, I like it here. I’m 64, my wife’s 60, and she’s going to carry on another five years and I’d like to as well.”
Sara Gonzalez, of the Friends of Kirkgate Market, also has fears over rent after the market’s revamp. She said: “Most traders can’t afford higher rent.”
The council’s executive member for the economy, Coun Richard Lewis, said: “We’re listening to traders’ concerns, both in respect of changes already experienced and what is yet to come.”
The multi-million pound overhaul of Leeds’ Kirkgate Market is hoped to breathe new life into a retail destination that dates back to 1822.
The plans aim to transform one of the largest indoor markets in Europe through a programme of roof repairs, modernisation and the introduction of a covered daily market and events area.
The £12.3m refurbishment, which is expected to start next year, will also see the development of a separate Kirkgate Village through a food to go area and retailers operating outside of normal hours.