Food village could be tasty addition to outdoor market

Leeds Kirkgate Market’s outdoor trading area could be set for a new look under proposals designed to safeguard the long-term future of this open-air shopping spot.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will next week be asked to approve the launch of a consultation seeking views on plans to bring a food and drink venue to part of the outdoor market site.

The outdoor market has space for a total of 185 stalls, with around 85 of them being filled on a typical day.

The council says this means a sizeable portion of the site is regularly left standing empty. Provisional plans have been drawn up to reduce the number of outdoor stalls, with the remaining pitches being positioned adjacent to the indoor market.

Should the scheme get the go-ahead, the newly-created space would become home to a ‘container-style’ food village of the type already found in cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol.

The council explains it has been approached by potential operators who have expressed an interest in running an attraction of this kind at the market.

If approved, the venue is likely to be built from refurbished shipping containers and would aim to boost week-round footfall across the whole market site.

It would complement previously-approved regeneration plans for a new hotel and ground-floor commercial units on the George Street side of the market.

The container food and drink scheme would deliver a significant income stream for the council, putting the open-air market on a more secure financial footing.

Consultation on the plans would involve a range of interested parties, including traders, customers and businesses that are based near the market.

Findings would then be considered at February’s council executive board meeting, along with any further steps that would have to be taken before a final decision.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds Kirkgate Market is a historic part of the fabric of life in our city and, as such, we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure it remains a modern, exciting and inclusive shopping destination.

“It is therefore important to explore imaginative new ways to make the best use of all the market space, particularly at a time when the council, like many other local authorities nationwide, is facing hugely-difficult financial challenges.

“If the consultation is approved, we will be encouraging as many people as possible to have their say on these plans. It’s crucial to stress that no decision has been taken on the proposals.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...