Leeds & West Yorkshire

Proposals to cut the size of Leeds' Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market's domed roof
Image caption Kirkgate Market dates back to 1822, but the glass domes of the market's main hall were built in 1904

Stallholders at a 190-year-old West Yorkshire market should lose a quarter of their trading space, a report has recommended.

The report into the future of Kirkgate Market, commissioned by Leeds City Council, recommends parts of the market be "reconfigured" and redeveloped.

The market could also be jointly run by the council and one or more private sector investors, the report suggests.

The proposals will be considered by the council's Executive Board in February.

Leeds council commissioned a company of market specialists to look at how to make the most of the market space and keep it thriving.

The specialists were asked to advise on the optimum size of the market, as well as the potential for securing "significant" investment for its renovation.

'Face challenges'

The report recommends that the market's size be reduced by 25% to 52,000 sq ft (4,831 sq m).

It also suggests that the 1970s and 1980s extensions to the rear of Kirkgate Market, built as a result of a major fire in 1975, should be redeveloped.

A new food court area and a basement service level could also be built, the report recommends.

Councillor Gerry Harper, the council's markets champion, welcomed the findings saying Kirkgate Market must react to changing trends in shopping and the poor economic climate.

"The market has to face up to these challenges and adapt to the different trading environment," he said.

"If we leave it as it is then it's just going to get worse and worse, with fewer and fewer people coming in."

'Big stake'

Nigel Gifford, a butcher at Kirkgate Market, said the proposed redevelopment "could be a good thing" as the market needed modernisation.

"We don't want to make it into a shopping centre, though, we want to keep it as a market," he said.

But fishmonger Liz Laughton said she was unhappy about the possibility of bringing in private investors to jointly manage the market.

"The market is here for the people of Leeds. If we start talking about private partnerships then where is the profit going?" she asked.

"Nobody is going to invest privately without taking a big stake in the profits."

Councillor Harper said no final decisions had been made about the future of Kirkgate Market, and that traders and the public would be asked for their views on the report's findings.

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