STACK Leeds: New images and more detail on plans to create 'food village' transforming Kirkgate Market

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Plans to create a new container-style 'food village' at Kirkgate Market are gathering pace, after Leeds City Council revealed the company it wants to transform the site.

Proposals to redevelop the outdoor trading area at the city centre city venue were first unveiled in December 2022 by the local authority, in a bid to safeguard its future amid financial challenges.

The council has now announced that STACK, a company that specialises in creating sustainable leisure destinations, is its preferred operator following a "robust selection process".

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A CGI picture showing what the planned new food village at Leeds' Kirkgate Market could look like. Picture: Leeds City Council.A CGI picture showing what the planned new food village at Leeds' Kirkgate Market could look like. Picture: Leeds City Council.
A CGI picture showing what the planned new food village at Leeds' Kirkgate Market could look like. Picture: Leeds City Council. | Leeds City Council

STACK, which opened the popular STACK Seaburn site on the North East coast near Sunderland in 2020, is currently developing a number of similar sites around the country - including one in Newcastle city centre to serve as a fan zone next to the St James’ Park stadium.

In Leeds, the planned food village would see the current number of outdoor pitches cut to accommodate a new container-style village in a move the council hopes will "power the further regeneration of the eastern side of the city centre".

The transformed area would still be able to "comfortably accommodate all existing traders" as well as new arrivals, the council said.

It would also remain one of the largest sites of its kind in the region, the local authority added.

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Construction will not begin on the food village until necessary planning and licensing approvals have been sought.

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm STACK as our preferred operator for what will be, subject to the necessary planning and licensing approvals, a really exciting addition to Leeds Kirkgate Market.

“STACK’s track record and proposals make it an ideal fit for a scheme that would complement other major improvements at the market – improvements that recently helped push monthly visitor numbers past 500,000.

“Our ongoing investment in this important and historic retail destination means it is now well placed to play its part in powering the further regeneration of the eastern side of the city centre.

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“The council is also committed to continuing to work with the market’s existing traders to ensure they can reap the maximum benefit from the proposed food village.”

The local authority said it hopes the food village will boost footfall across the whole market site, and help to attract a new customer base, while creating additional jobs in a new seven-days-a-week operation extending into the evening.

Kirkgate Market's current outdoor market has room for a total of 185 stalls but the council said that less than half of those are typically filled on its busiest days.

Cost of building the food, beverage and entertainment venue would be met by STACK if the plans go ahead, the local authority said.

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Neill Winch, STACK’s chief executive officer, said: "We at STACK are thrilled to be selected as the preferred operator for the new food village at Leeds Kirkgate Market. Our passion for creating vibrant, community-focused destinations aligns perfectly with the council's vision for regeneration and cultural enrichment.

“STACK's approach is all about sustainability and synergy with local businesses. We're excited to bring our unique blend of street food, beverage offerings and entertainment to Leeds and to integrate with the historic and bustling market environment. This opportunity not only allows us to contribute to the city's dynamic growth but also to create a space where the community and visitors can enjoy a diverse and engaging experience.

“We're committed to ensuring that the new container village will be a place where both existing and new traders can thrive, enhancing the overall market and ensuring it remains a key attraction in Leeds. We look forward to working closely with the council and local stakeholders to make this vision a reality."

It comes after the first phase of a £10m renovation of a series of units at the market was completed in October.

The council also secured planning permission to build a new hotel and gym on the George Street side of the Grade I-Listed market building last year.

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