Leeds City Council looks set to accept consultants’ recommendations on the future size and redevelopment framework for the city’s historic Kirkgate market, but isn’t going to be rushing in to any decision on the long-term management and ownership of the market.
The Council’s executive is meeting next Friday (10th February) to decide what steps to take now that it has received the report on the market’s future drawn up by consultants Quarterbridge.
And the recommendation from senior council officers is that the council has a further long hard look before opting for any particular management/ownership model.
There has been considerable concern expressed – both within and outside the council – over the consultants’ recommendation that a Limited Liability Partnership be set up to own and run the market.
“Given the importance of the market to the city, further detailed consideration and analysis needs to be given to this aspect of Quarterbridge’s report before a final proposal regarding the management and ownership is brought forward,” says a report prepared for next Friday’s meeting by the Council’s director of city development.
“Further investigation is needed to determine the extent and detail, if any, of any third party investment and appraise this against the option of the Council funding the capital investment and continuing with the current management arrangements,” it adds.
While this investigation is going on, the internal council report recommends that a proportion of the income generated by the market be ring-fenced, in part to pay for a feasibility study that would identify the scope, scale and financial implications (capital and revenue) of a range of redevelopment and refurbishment schemes for the market.
The report recommends too that the council’s executive accept in principle the consultants’ proposals that the overall size of the market be reduced by around 25%; that the George Street shops, the 1976 hall and the 1981 hall be replaced; and that the 1904 and 1875 halls be refurbished.
Legal issues over tenants’ relocation
The report says that the concerns expressed over the consultants’ report at last month’s meeting of the Council’s Scrutiny Board (Regeneration) will be passed to the council’s project board that’s been overseeing the strategy for the market.
“Legal issues arising from the relocation of tenants due to the proposed redevelopment and refurbishment works…will be determined as part of the next stage of the project,” the report says.
No mention in the report, though, of the specific concern over a possible conflict of interest following revelations that Quarterbridge sought advice for its report from law firm Nabarro. Nabarro are helping developers Hammerson with their planning application for Kirkgate market’s new competitor, the Eastgate Quarters shopping mall that’s going to be built next door.
Joint venture company?
Interestingly enough, one of the ownership and management models that appears now to be on the agenda is that of a joint venture company – the route taken by the council in Liverpool in partnership with Geraud Markets.
After months of protracted negotiations Leeds City Council has just set up such a company to handle the Council’s architectural services, and it says that it’s going to look at whether the model can be extended to other areas.