The revitalization of the vicinity surrounding Leeds Kirkgate Market is poised to achieve another significant stride forward following the approval of plans for a new hotel and gym.

In August, Leeds City Council submitted a planning application for the development on the George Street side of the Grade I listed market building. Yesterday (Thursday, November 30), the application received unanimous support during a meeting of the council’s city plans panel.

This decision implies that construction work is expected to commence next year, as the council has already secured a pre-let lease agreement with Premier Inn, the hotel operator.

The project encompasses a council-operated public gym, aiming to enhance access to high-quality health and fitness facilities for residents and workers in the city centre.

Anticipated as another commendable success story for an area that has undergone substantial positive changes in recent years, the transformation of the George Street site is set to complement landmarks like the Victoria Gate retail destination, the renovated Leeds Playhouse, and Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus.

The design of the scheme also seeks to increase foot traffic to the market, which has already experienced a boost through a multi-million pound investment programme.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

“The plans panel’s support for the George Street scheme represents another important milestone in the regeneration of the area around Leeds Kirkgate Market and beyond.

“Leeds city centre is already a vibrant, attractive place to visit, but we want to make it even better – and the new hotel will help us achieve that aim, providing a stylish linking point between Vicar Lane, the Eastgate roundabout and Quarry Hill.

“The scheme also underlines our commitment to ensuring the market retains its position as one of the jewels in the city’s retail crown.”

Paul Smith, acquisitions manager for Premier Inn owner Whitbread, said:

“We are extremely proud to have been named as the operator of the George Street hotel.

“The location ticks so many boxes for Premier Inn customers and I know our guests will give a lot back to the area once we are open.

“Following yesterday’s meeting, we will continue to work closely with the council’s team to construct the new hotel and deliver another superb location for our guests in the city centre.”

The council-owned site earmarked for the six-storey development is currently occupied by several vacant low-rise shop units. The hotel will occupy the top five floors, featuring 143 rooms, a bar, and a restaurant for guests. The ground floor will house commercial units and the council-run gym.

Upon operationalization, the hotel is expected to create around 50 new full and part-time jobs locally, with approximately 80 jobs supported during the construction phase.

Recent council initiatives at the market include ongoing efforts to repair, conserve, and enhance the 1875 ‘blockshops,’ the oldest surviving structures on the site. Over £1.4 million worth of rent concessions were provided to traders to alleviate the financial impact of the pandemic. Additionally, the creation of the Market Kitchen street food hall and event space occurred during a £14 million refurbishment scheme in 2016.

The council is also exploring the possibility of introducing a ‘container-style’ food village to part of the market’s outdoor site to boost foot traffic for traders in that area.