Progress towards the development of a new hotel at Leeds Kirkgate Market has achieved another significant milestone.

Leeds City Council confirmed the preliminary details of this proposed development on the George Street side of the market complex earlier this year.

Subsequently, following a well-received community consultation process, a comprehensive planning application has now been formally submitted for this project. If the application garners approval, construction work could commence in the upcoming year. This development promises to inject even more life and vigour into a sector of the city centre that has recently witnessed extensive regeneration activities.

This initiative also serves as a strategy to attract more visitors to the market, which is already experiencing a surge in traffic, with over 400,000 visitors each month due to a substantial multi-million-pound investment program. The designated site for this development is currently owned by the council and consists of several vacant low-rise shop units.

The proposed hotel will occupy the uppermost five floors of a new six-storey building, featuring approximately 140 rooms and a bar and restaurant for the guests. Meanwhile, the ground floor will house commercial units and a modern council-operated gym, enhancing the fitness facilities available to residents in the city centre and nearby neighbourhoods.

The council will oversee the development of this scheme and has already secured a pre-let lease agreement with the prospective hotel operator. An emphasis on high-quality design is integral to the plan, aiming to create a fittingly attractive addition to the Grade I listed market building.

Furthermore, the hotel’s location will be in close proximity to significant landmarks such as the Victoria Gate retail destination, the refurbished Leeds Playhouse, and Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus. These institutions have played a pivotal role in revitalising the eastern side of the city centre.

The council’s city plans panel considered an initial “pre-application” report on these proposals on June 22. Following this, a period of community consultation ensued, with the majority of feedback received from the public expressing strong support for the project. Various groups, including market traders, ward councillors, and stakeholders like Leeds Civic Trust, were engaged during the consultation process. Additionally, letters were dispatched to local residential and commercial properties, and an in-person information event was organised at the market.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said; “We’re determined to do everything we can to deliver a bright and busy future for Leeds Kirkgate Market while also driving forward the regeneration of the surrounding area.

“These hotel proposals are designed to help us achieve that twin aim, and we have been encouraged by the response we have had to them over the last few months.

“The submission of the planning application marks another important step in a process that we hope will have a positive and transformative effect on George Street and the rest of the eastern side of our fantastic city centre.”

The council has undertaken various initiatives to enhance and support the market, including ongoing efforts to repair, conserve, and improve the 1875 “blockshops,” the oldest structures on the market site. Additionally, the council has provided over £1.4 million in rent concessions to assist traders in coping with the financial challenges posed by the pandemic. Furthermore, the creation of the popular Market Kitchen street food hall and event space during a £14 million refurbishment project in 2016 exemplifies the council’s commitment to the market’s vitality.

Currently, the council is exploring the possibility of introducing a “container-style” food village to a section of the market’s outdoor area with the aim of boosting foot traffic for traders situated in that zone.