Leeds & West Yorkshire

Stallholders react to Leeds Kirkgate market plan

Leeds Kirkgate market
Image caption The proposals suggest private investment and reducing the size of the market by a quarter

Traders at Europe's largest covered market have expressed concerns over development proposals drawn up for Leeds City Council.

The plans suggest reducing the size of Leeds City Markets in Kirkgate and to ask traders to reapply for tenancies.

Traders claim the process would turn it into an "expensive food hall". The council said the market had to face up to changing shopping trends.

The proposals will be considered by the council in February.

The plan, drawn up by market specialists commissioned by the Labour-controlled council, recommends the market's size be reduced by 25% to 52,000 sq ft (4,831 sq m).

Gentrification fears

It also suggests the 1970s and 1980s extensions, to the rear of the Victorian building, should be redeveloped.

Some stallholders fear the proposals aim to gentrify the market.

Fishmonger Liz Laughton, from the Kirkgate branch of the National Market Traders' Federation, said the plans risked alienating poorer customers.

"To have a gentrified market means prices going up," she said. "We provide food for everyone not just the top 10%.

Image caption Traders said rising costs resulting from the modernisation would be passed to customers

"People don't have to come and ask us for something that costs very little because we know them."

Ms Laughton said the plans would turn the market into an "expensive food hall" and traders would have to be pass rising costs on to customers.

Another trader, Joanne Johnson, admitted something needed to be done but said she was not convinced by the proposals.

She said: "The rents are too high and people are struggling but I am not sure knocking down parts of the building is the answer."

However, Councillor Gerry Harper said change was essential.

"You have to adapt to the changes, the changes in shopping trends," he said.

"If you don't less and less people will come in and more stalls will close. Doing nothing is not an option."

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