Plans stacking up for market food village as preferred operator is selected

Plans for a new food village at Leeds Kirkgate Market have taken a significant step forward with the confirmation of a preferred operator for the ‘container-style’ venue.

Leeds City Council invited initial expressions of interest in April last year, seeking private operators wanting to develop and run the attraction proposed for part of the market’s outdoor trading area. It has now confirmed STACK as its preferred operator.

STACK specialises in creating sustainable leisure destinations which offer a mix of street food and beverage outlets as well as events and entertainment.

It was one of three private operators which submitted formal bids to the council in relation to the Leeds site.

The start of work on the food village is subject to the scheme securing the necessary planning and licensing approvals.

Costs of building the food, beverage and entertainment venue would be met by the operator, with rental payments generating a new income stream for the council.

The development would, it is hoped, boost footfall across the whole market site and help attract a new customer base.

The outdoor market currently has room for a total of 185 stalls, with around 85 of those being filled on its busiest days.

Under plans first revealed by the council in late 2022, the number of outdoor pitches would be reduced and the freed-up space used as the location for the new container village.

Leeds City Council says the reconfigured area would still be able to comfortably accommodate all existing traders – as well as new arrivals.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, council deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “STACK’s track record and proposals make it an ideal fit for a scheme that would complement other major improvements at the market – improvements that recently helped push monthly visitor numbers past 500,000.

“Our ongoing investment in this important and historic retail destination means it is now well placed to play its part in powering the further regeneration of the eastern side of the city centre.

“The council is also committed to continuing to work with the market’s existing traders to ensure they can reap the maximum benefit from the proposed food village.”

Neill Winch, STACK’s chief executive officer, said: “We’re thrilled to be selected as the preferred operator for the new food village at Leeds Kirkgate Market.

“Our passion for creating vibrant, community-focused destinations aligns perfectly with the council’s vision for regeneration and cultural enrichment.

“STACK’s approach is all about sustainability and synergy with local businesses. We’re excited to bring our unique blend of street food, beverage offerings and entertainment to Leeds and to integrate with the historic and bustling market environment.

“This opportunity not only allows us to contribute to the city’s dynamic growth but also to create a space where the community and visitors can enjoy a diverse and engaging experience.”