Exciting plans for a major new hotel development at Leeds Kirkgate Market are set to take a significant step forward. Leeds City Council has for some time been exploring the potential for a hotel to be built on the George Street side of the market complex, as part of the wider regeneration of the area.
Now initial proposals for the development are due to go before the council’s city plans panel at a meeting next Thursday, June 22. Subject to feedback from panel members at the meeting, a full planning application is expected to be submitted in July.
The scheme is designed to complement the ongoing transformation of a large swathe of the city centre that is also home to the Victoria Gate retail destination as well as the refurbished Leeds Playhouse, one of Leeds City College’s main campuses, and the rest of the fast-growing Quarry Hill area.
The proposed hotel is also seen as a way of driving further footfall into the market, which has already benefited in recent times from a multi-million-pound investment program.
Currently occupied by a number of vacant low-rise shop units, the council-owned site earmarked for the six-storey development offers an important regeneration opportunity as Leeds city centre seeks to consolidate its position as the region’s key retail and leisure hub.
The 143-room hotel would be developed by the council, with a pre-let lease in place with a proposed operator.
The scheme’s high-quality approach to design would respect the heritage of the Grade I listed market building while also delivering a stylish modern addition to George Street.
Its ground floor would be home to commercial units and a council-operated gym, improving the local ‘fitness offer’ for people living in both the city centre and nearby communities.
A glazed central block, meanwhile, would provide an inviting and prominent entrance to the market from George Street.
Planning permission for an aparthotel complex on the same site at George Street was granted in 2018 but has since expired, with progress on that scheme having been hampered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said:
“The area around Leeds Kirkgate Market – and indeed the whole eastern side of the city centre – has undergone some massive and positive changes in recent years.
“The proposed hotel would add another vibrant piece to the jigsaw by contributing to the regeneration of George Street and acting as a visually-impressive linking point between Vicar Lane, the Eastgate roundabout, and Quarry Hill.
“These plans also underline our commitment to the market and its future as a much-loved fixture on our retail scene that is now attracting more than 400,000 visitors a month.”
Recent improvements and support delivered for the market by the council include:
- The creation of the popular Market Kitchen street food hall and event space as part of a £14m refurbishment scheme in 2016;
- An ongoing £10m project to repair, conserve, and enhance the 1875 ‘blockshops’, the oldest surviving structures on the market site;
- The provision of more than £1.4m worth of rent concessions to help traders cope with the financial effects of the pandemic.
The council is also currently considering the potential for bringing a ‘container-style’ food village to part of the market’s outdoor site, with a view to boosting footfall for traders based in that area.