Kirkgate Market, based in a 1904 Grade 1 listed building, is claimed to be the largest in Europe and is one of the finest gems in the shopping jewels of Leeds.
A report on the future of the market, carried out by consultants in 2011, proposed a reduction in the size of the market by up to 25%. As a result, part of the later buildings could be demolished and the outdoor market moved there, leaving its present site available for development. Leeds Civic Trust opposed this conclusion, particularly in a climate of austerity when it is inevitable that trade will be lower than normal. A thriving, active market is essential to provide variety in the shopping offer and if Leeds is to become "the best city in the UK" as set out in the 2012 Vision, a re-vitalised market can achieve that better than a reduced market can. Certainly this should not be used as an excuse to raise capital by selling off part of the site.Leeds Kirkgate Market 2012
In 2012, Leeds City Council commissioned NPS (a design consultancy with which it has an on-going contractual relationship to provide architectural and engineering support) to review the plans for the future of Kirkgate Market. We were happy to hear that NPS would look afresh at the area before coming up with its own conclusions.
In November 2012, members of the Planning Committee attended a presentation of initial thoughts regarding the key issues which need to be adressed in any Market regeneration plan. These can be seen on the Markets website - click here and scroll down to 16 October 2012 ('Future of Kirkgate Market') and 22 October 2012 ('Stage 1 Public Engagement Report and Data') to download the reports.
The Trust contributes to the ongoing debate about the future of the market through the Friends of Kirkgate Market and also has a subgroup of our Planning Committee commenting directly to the City Council.
There has been a market on the site of Kirkgate Market (previously the garden of the Vicar of Leeds' land) since the early nineteenth century, and the present building's predecessor was a cast iron and glass building of 1857 inspired by the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition. The Kirkgate frontage was built in 1904 to the designs of the architects Leeming and Leeming of Bradford. Its French renaissance style provides an exotic exterior to the grand glazed interior market hall, behind which the market continued to expand. Following a devastating fire in 1976, which fortunately spared the 1904 hall, the market was rebuilt with further rebuilding in 1981.