Rent reduction to support market traders as upgrade plans get underway

Leeds city council’s £12.3m investment in the refurbishment of Kirkgate Market has taken a major step forward as the planning application details and support for traders are announced.

The council is proposing a 20 per cent reduction in rent aimed at helping traders as work to upgrade the historical market getting underway in early 2015.

The rent reduction, which is subject to approval by the council’s executive board, would be for one year. If approved, traders’ rent will be reduced from October 2014.

A major element of the refurbishment plans will see a vibrant, new, fresh food area created by moving the butchers from their current location to join traders on fish and game row.

This will mean substantial upgrades to all utilities such as the market’s Victorian drainage being replaced, ventilation improved and the sprinkler system and electrics upgraded, to create the modern shopping environment to trade in, visit and shop.

The inevitable disruption from these works means the fish and game row area will need to close temporarily, however the council is offering traders affected by this, alternative accommodation for a period of around 3 months in refurbished empty market units on the existing Butchers’ Row to maintain a fresh food offer at the market during the works. This will enable the works to be completed in one go minimising disruption for traders.

Once works are completed, traders will be able to move to the fully revamped area along with their new neighbours from butchers’ row. This will form part of the new integrated fresh produce area in the market.

The project is also reaching a major milestone as the planning application and listed building consent is submitted by the end of the month. The planning application and listed building consent sets out the detailed proposals for the project.

Affected tenants will receive six months’ notice to vacate their unit giving them time to consider the future options. The first traders affected will receive notice from 1 August 2014. All tenants will be eligible to apply for existing and newly built vacant units, or to receive statutory compensation instead. The council will work with traders to identify support and independent advice available to them.

Importantly, traders will be able to move on to the updated, standardised lease agreements offering them more long term certainty, including the right to transfer or sell on the business, as the council agreed in December 2013.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for transport and the economy, 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.

“As well as being about the refurbishment of a much loved Leeds landmark, it’s also about people and their livelihoods and the long-term commercial success of the market. 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.

“We need to be realistic about what we can achieve in managing the refurbishment of a historic building in a live market environment. The most effective and efficient way to get works done on fish and game row is to do it all in one go. Relocating traders for around 3 months whilst keeping them in the market where customers can find them, is a practical solution.”

Notes to editors:

The rent reduction will be funded separately to the £12.3m investment in the improvements to Leeds Kirkgate Market. This is why a separate decision is required by executive board.

The £12.3m refurbishment will secure the market’s future; improvements to the structure of the building will create a better quality environment to trade in, visit and shop. With millions of visitors expected when Victoria Gate opens, the market will be able to make the most of increased footfall and customer spending with the existing and new businesses located in the market.

The work includes:

• Roof repairs, new lights, upgrading the sprinkler system, drainage works and a new ventilation system.

• Replacing the roof covering in the 1976 and 1981 halls by stripping off the existing roof covering and replacing with a new modern covering. By overlaying the roof, businesses will be able to trade with minimal disruption.

• Creating distinct retail zones.

• Introducing a covered daily market and a dedicated events space.

• Improving the layout of the market with new routes and signage.

• Improving the outdoor market and making it more attractive and visible.

• Developing the ‘Kirkgate Village’ concept - this separate project will see the council working with a developer to create an area for ‘food to go’, leisure and specialist retailers operating out of normal trading hours.


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Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 0244

email: laura.ferris@leeds.gov.uk