Friday 24 May 2013

Market Renewal – The English Experience

Market renewal is well underway in England as authorities tackle the declining fortune of traditional markets. Markets are seen as an essential ingredient of English community life and the lessons learned through the renewal process could bear heavily on our own Queen Victoria Market renewal process. 

Leeds, Kirkgate Market has been in the news recently with a plan from Leeds Council to inject 12.3 million pounds into developing the market. This market has some similarities with QVM in that it was initially completed in 1857 and has suffered recent decline with traders blaming lack of investment and marketing, and high rents for a general run-down in conditions. Kirkgate has been the subject of several high profile public consultations as the Council’s Executive Board plan for works commencing this year and being completed by 2016. 
Here are some of the measures under consideration- 
1. Creation of a flexible central events and entertainment space. 
2. New routes through the market. 
3. Creating distinct zones to encourage customers to travel to all areas of the market. 
4. Improving signage. 
5. A daily indoor market where traders could set up for just one day. 
6. New retail units linking with another retail development across the road. 
7. Improving the interior and exterior of the market making it both attractive and easily accessible. 
8. Reducing some rents in order to attract new entrepreneurial traders. 

In answer to criticism from various quarters Leeds Council has advised the following – 
1. There are no plans to gentrify the market. 
2. No trader would have to move more than once during the development phase. 
3. The stall content is not driven by the council. Traders set up according to demand. 
4. An initial idea to reduce the size of the market by one quarter has been rejected. 
5. The number of stalls would remain roughly the same, and in fact may increase. 
6. Rents had been kept at the same level for the last 5 years and there were no plans to increase them. 
7.The project includes a new management structure involving traders from different parts of the market.