By Claire Schofield
Leeds’ Kirkgate Market car park is due to close to make way for a new retail development.
The council-owned market car park on Union Street and George Street will be closed on the evening of April 5 so construction can get underway for the new £150 million Victoria Gate development.
Victoria Gate will open in 2016 and will feature 30 retail and restaurant units, a casino and Leeds’ very first John Lewis flagship store, as well as a new high quality 800 space multi-story car park on the Millgarth Police Station.
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member for economy and development, said: “We appreciate that there will be inconvenience caused by closing this car park and we have worked to foreworn motorists and neighbouring local businesses.”
“The closure will enable the much welcomed redevelopment of this area of the city and will create thousands of jobs and training opportunities.”
Despite the council’s assurance that the closure of the car park will be beneficial, some market traders are concerned the closure will drive away business.
Fruit and Veg trader, Michael Dolan, 58, said: “The new car park is supposed to take 12 to 18 months to build which mean that we will be out of a car park for two years. If our shoppers cannot park anywhere they will start going to other markets and then we have lost them. They won’t come back.”
The council remain adamant that market traders have no need to fear that the closure of the car park will cause a loss of trade, stating: “The Victoria Gate development will bring in 10 million visitors and will entice traders through the market doors. There are 1900 other car parking spaces within the vicinity of the market so business should not be affected.”
Notices have been displayed in the car park to inform motorists of the impending closure and offers suggestions of alternative parking, directing visitors to Quarry Hill car park adjacent to West Yorkshire Playhouse.
An NCP car park neighbouring the market is also available, although it will cost motorists double the cost than what they would have previously paid in the council-owned car park.
LISTEN: Market trader Michael Dolan protests about the closure of the market car park to make way for the new Victoria Gate retail development: