Leeds Kirkgate Market: Plans for London Boxpark-inspired 'container-style food village' backed by councillors
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The plans respond to a long-term reduction in demand for outdoor stalls in the council-run market, with less than half now remaining occupied.
According to council documents, the proposed new space will include “communal space and industrial feel”, seven day operation and a “desire to be as complementary as possible to the market.
The existing pitches would be positioned adjacent to the indoor market.
At a Leeds City Council Executive Board meeting this week, council deputy leader Jonathan Pryor (Lab) said: “[Dwindling market use] is not unique to Leeds. Markets across the country are facing similar circumstances.
"This will ensure we get additional income without the loss of any trader space currently being used.”
The idea has also gathered pace among opposition councillors.
Leeds Conservatives group leader Coun Andrew Carter said: “Times have changed, and we have, over a lot of years now, seen a sad decline in the outdoor market.
"This council, under various administrations, has done all sorts to boost the indoor and the outdoor market. I think if the market traders embrace this, and talk to the council about this, it shouldn’t need to have any detrimental effect.
"Given the right approach, and the council being flexible and helpful, this should be a win-win. It should provide an outdoor experience that will help the market and we should give it a try.
"I do think we should support the traders in overcoming any fears they have. If these containers were to suddenly start not being food and drink offers, but also other offers that compete against those [already there], we will just find a displacement, and that will achieve us nothing."
“It’s always a difficult decision to make change at Kirkgate Market,” added Leeds Lib Dem leader Stewart Golton. “Everybody has opinions about it and everybody has a memory about it – and I think that’s part of the problem.
"It’s not a daily or weekly place where as many people should go as could go. This is a difficult proposal because the outdoor market is less formal than the indoor market. People are attracted to it who can’t afford the overheads of an indoor space – but on the other hand, it has not delivered what it is meant to for several years now.
"The traders should be thinking of this as something that could bring extra footfall.
"The danger is that this operation that is managed by these commercial companies has a certain demographic which is a little bit more moneyed than the full demographic that we hope to provide for.
"Some people will fear that the poorer end of our city is being displaced by delivering this kind of facility. It’s up to the market’s board to ensure that plurality of offer is delivered while this is ongoing.”
Coun Pryor added: “Nobody is being displaced. There will be more stalls leftover, and it will remain one of the largest outdoor markets in the country, so it is a win-win.”
A consultation exercise will now take place for the plans, and councillors will meet again in February to discuss the feedback for the plans.