New era for Leeds Kirkgate Market on the agenda

A new era for Kirkgate market is on the agenda as council chiefs bid to give it a new lease of life.

Shoppers and traders are being asked to take part in a consultation exercise aiming to stem a decline in custom which has led to 15 per cent of the stalls in the famous marketplace lying empty.

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Leeds City Council Executive Board has given the green light to plans for a questionnaire aiming to find positive ways of re-positioning the market as a tourist destination and upmarket venue for traders.

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Under the consultation plans, tenants, staff, trade unions, other city centre retailers and the general public will be asked their thoughts about the market's future.

Coun Richard Lewis, executive board member with responsibility for development, said: "These days people tend to shop at supermarkets so we have to offer something quite different because times have changed.

"Kirkgate market is still a very important part of the city centre which people love but there is an untapped market out there for new ways of shopping. We need to look to the future and find new customers, while continuing to meet the needs of existing ones."

A recent survey showed that 2.4m of work needs to be carried out just on the roofs and the structure of the building.

The council is also assessing the future of the "temporary buildings"

constructed following the market fire in 1975. It has invested 0.5m recently in support for traders to make the market more customer-friendly.

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