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Concerns over future redevelopment scheme from traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market

Market stall holders have expressed confusion over what Leeds City Council will change in the market under its current five-year plan.  

According to the council, the redevelopment scheme hopes to improve Kirkgate Market by delivering “key actions to help ensure the market remains, an attractive, safe and welcoming destination.”  

However butcher John Paul Johnston said that there had been “no communication whatsoever” in terms of what the future of the market would look like. 

“They [the plans] seem to be changing constantly.” 

Tea and Coffee stand at Kirkgate Market, photo by Hashaam Yaqoob

Despite reassurances from the City Council that all vacant lots will be filled, and that the traders would be involved in the future of the Market, Johnston said that there had been “no emails, no phone calls” about what this would look like despite the scheme starting in March 2021. 

Stall holders remain concerned that the plans will not deliver what the council promises. Joss Cole, owner of art store Cole’s Gallery, said: “The council can make assurances, but if the money isn’t there nothing will change.” 

“The council can make assurances, but if the money isn’t there nothing will change.”

Joss cole, Market Trader

In 2019 Leeds City Council invested over £1 million in building and refurbishing units, but there remains no figure on how the five-year plan for the market will be funded.   

Peter, owner of record store Too Damn Loud, said that there was too much of a segregation in the market between different store types. 

“It’s alright if Jamie Oliver cooks in the food market, but that doesn’t mean customers will buy my records.” He pointed out that a cafe opposite his shop, which had closed at the beginning of the pandemic and at time of writing is still a vacant lot, was where the majority of his business came from.

“People would come to the cafe, and then have a browse of the records. The council think it’s a brilliant idea to have the food section redeveloped but then separated from the rest of the businesses. I also think that there should be more toilets in the market.” 

Despite concerns about the council’s vision most traders agreed that the market needed to redevelop. Johnston said: “If the market doesn’t change, then there won’t be a market.” 

What do you think?