The refurbishment of the iconic Kirkgate Market reaches a major milestone with the publication of a key report.
The report, published on Tuesday 25 March to be considered by the council’s Executive Board in early April, will recommend that design and cost proposals are signed off.
The redevelopment will allow Kirkgate Market to prosper for many years to come. The 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.
If agreed, the report would pave the way for the submission of a planning application and listed building consent for the landmark building.
Crucially, the report will seek approval to spend £10.8 million on substantial improvements to the market structure and layout, which will help secure the markets future.
The overall approved budget for the project is £12.3m, with Executive Board having agreed to release £1.615m in March 2013 to progress it to this stage.
The report, will also announce a package of support for traders relocating as part of the improvement plans.
If this gets the green light, the council will offer a mixture of grants and interest free loans to those relocating traders to cover the cost of moving and fitting out their new premises.
The report coincides with the start of the search for a developer to come on board to develop the George Street frontage of the market.
The council is inviting expressions of interest from companies to redevelop the shops on George Street to provide an attractive and vibrant ‘front door’ to the market to entice visitors.
Although being handled as a distinct project with a separate procurement process, it is clearly linked to the interior redevelopment.
Developers are being asked to come forward with initial proposals for the ground floor which could include shops, restaurants or cafes and first floor accommodation which could be linked to the ground floor uses or as independent retail or commercial space. There is also potential to develop up to five floors.
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and economy, said:
“We’re proposing a major investment in an iconic listed building with significant local importance attached to it, so it’s vital that we get this right. This is a very complex project with many different elements to it and the report being published explains a number of these issues that we’ll need to consider before moving forward.
“We’re absolutely clear that we must invest in the market so it can take full advantage of its unique position in Leeds’ retail landscape. It would be remiss of us to not invest and pursue the redevelopment of George Street given the opportunity represented by the Victoria Gate development and the millions of predicted visitors.
“Although this is an unrivalled chance to make the market an even bigger success we certainly don’t underestimate the challenges it will present. We’re committed to our pledge that the market will remain open throughout works and we’ll continue to work with traders to minimise disruption.”
The proposed upgrades will provide new opportunities for existing market traders, allow new businesses to flourish and help attract more visitors to the market when an estimated 10 million people are drawn to the area with the opening of Victoria Gate.
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 overlying 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, the separate project working with a developer to create an area for food to go, leisure and specialist retailers operating out of normal trading hours.
If Executive Board approves the report, a planning application and an application for listed building consent will be prepared and submitted. Subject to approval and getting a contractor in place, it is intended that work will start in early 2015 with an estimated completion date in 2016.