Market is top of the shops as work continues on £10m renovation scheme: Market 1

13 Oct 2023

Market is top of the shops as work continues on £10m renovation scheme


A multi-million pound renovation scheme is ushering in a bright and busy new era for the most historic part of Leeds Kirkgate Market.

Work on the £10m refurbishment of the market’s 19th-century ‘blockshops’ area got under way last year, with the first phase of the Leeds City Council scheme now complete.

A total of 24 units have been fully renovated and improved with features such as new canopy fronts, electric roller shutters, extraction ducting, LED lighting and extra storage space.

Wider structural work has seen roofing repaired, walkways brightened up with new glazing, new guttering installed and floors lowered to enhance accessibility.

The project team has also taken care to respect and protect the site’s history, with heritage features such as herringbone brickwork being restored to their former glory.

A further 24 units will be given similarly stylish makeovers when the second and final phase of the scheme begins in the next few weeks.

And the ongoing rebirth of the blockshops was today hailed as a sign of the council’s steadfast commitment to ensuring that Leeds Kirkgate Market remains one of the jewels in the city’s retail crown.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

“Leeds Kirkgate Market is an important and much-loved part of life in our city and, as such, we’re determined to keep on giving it the kind of care and attention it deserves.

“The blockshops scheme is a fine example of how this approach is delivering real and tangible benefits, with its now-completed first phase set to make a huge difference to traders and customers alike.

“The project has been designed to complement other investments by the council in the market, which I’m proud to say has recently been attracting more than 500,000 visitors per month.

“It’s great to hear that the second phase of the blockshops scheme will be getting under way soon – it will be fascinating to watch as further improvements take shape and help make this famous symbol of Leeds an even better place to shop and spend time.”

Dating back to 1875, the blockshops are the oldest surviving structures at the market and comprise eight two-storey buildings linked by an infill glazed roof.

The renovation scheme has required meticulous planning and preparation on the part of the council and contractor Bermar, due to both the historic nature of the buildings and their position at the heart of the wider market complex.

A number of the refurbished units are now available to rent, while others are already in the process of opening up for business.

Three have been secured by Leeds-based charity Zest for an initiative called The Leeds Cookery School @ Kirkgate Market. Zest’s units will offer a variety of community cooking programmes as well as bespoke cooking classes and corporate away day opportunities.

Leeds City College is also set to take up a unit for use as a vegan and vegetarian cafe, allowing catering and hospitality students and apprentices to gain valuable hands-on experience of running a business.

Other improvements and support delivered for the market by the council in recent times include:

  • The creation of the popular Market Kitchen street food hall and event space as part of a £14m refurbishment scheme in 2016;
  • The provision of more than £1.4m worth of rent concessions to help traders cope with the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • A freeze on rent increases that has been in place since 2011.

The council is also currently considering the potential for bringing a ‘container-style’ food village to part of the market’s outdoor site, with a view to boosting footfall for traders based in that area.

A planning application has also been submitted by the council for the development of a new hotel, gym and commercial units on the George Street side of the market.

A commercial tender pack has been put together for businesses keen to learn more about the opportunities offered by the refurbished blockshops area. Packs can be obtained by e-mailing


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team