By Anders Anglesey
Retailers in Kirkgate Market are concerned that a planned multi-million pound refurbishment will disrupt and negatively impact their trade.
Leeds City Council is planning a £12.3 refurbishment of the historic market that includes roof repairs, creating distinct retail zones and improving the layout of the market with new routes and signage.
But business owners operating in Kirkgate feel that the length of the refurbishment will have a disruptive effect on sales and that they will struggle to
make sizeable profits, even when taking into account the council’s proposed 20 per cent cut in rent payments.
Owner of Fisherman’s Wife, Graham Reeves-Stephenson, 61, said: “At the moment it is not a good environment to work in and it’s probably costing us between 30 to 35 per cent of our trade.
“We’ve been a really successful business and I think the council and market have really let us down.”
Councillor Richard Lewis says he is excited with the refurbishment plans and wants businesses to maintain trading while work is carried out on the building.
He said: “While this is one of the most exciting developments at Kirkgate Market for many years, we know it’s going to be a challenge.
“We’re determined to find the right balance that allows businesses to trade while working on the fabric of the building and keeping the long-term goal in mind.
“We’re listening to traders’ concerns, both in respect of changes already experienced and what is yet to come, and that is why we’re proposing a year-long cut to rents.
The full scale refurbishment of the Kirkgate markets is due to begin in early 2015.