Petition launched to return Leicester Market to historic home after refurb plans paused

Aerial picture of the demolished Leicester Market space
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Matt Short Photography)


Market traders are calling on Leicester City Council to return the market to its historic home. They have set up a petition which denounces the plan to relocate stalls away from Market Place.

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby announced last week that he would be pausing the planned regeneration of the market to consider alternative uses for the site. He said the removal of the market’s roof had revealed the “huge potential” of the space formerly occupied by the stalls, and opened up views of the heritage buildings lining the square, adding the revelation had prompted questions over whether installing a new covered market in the square “would be the right thing to do”.

Instead, traders could be relocated to the planned “Cank Street Link”. The link plans will see a number of buildings between Green Dragon Square and Cank Street demolished and the car park on the Cank Street side used for specialised trading. Earlier proposals for relocating the market there suggest the entrance on the Green Dragon Square could be widened compared to original plans and covered to make a new space for the displaced traders.

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However, those who work in the market told LeicestershireLive they felt betrayed over what they branded “broken promises”. They are now gearing up to fight the new proposals.

The change.org petition set up on Saturday, May 25, had been signed 583 times in three days at the time of publication. It reads: “Leicester Market, a historic and vital part of our community, was promised by the council to be returned to its original location.

“Now, the council plans to relocate it again elsewhere, which is totally unacceptable to both traders and customers. This market has been a cornerstone of local commerce for decades, providing fresh produce and goods at affordable prices.

“Relocating it again would disrupt businesses and inconvenience countless residents who rely on its accessibility. Sign this petition to urge the council to honour their promise and keep Leicester Market in its original location.”

Pav Singh, who owns the Smokin Shack in the market, set up the petition. He told LeicestershireLive on behalf of the traders: "We moved here with the promise from Peter Soulsby, that we would be returning to our original location, which was going to be a lot better and more appealing and family friendly.

"The Market has been part of everyone's life, be it a trader, customer, or a member of the public simply passing through. To now be told the Market will not be returning to its original location is very disappointing, disheartening, and extremely deceitful."

Residents have also voiced their support for the market trader’s efforts. One person who signed the petition said: “[The market] should be where it originated. It's the heart of Leicester.”

Another added: “Preserve the tradition, and support the small businesses that are the lifeblood of any economy.”

Sir Peter said last week: “I met with representatives of the market traders to explain my shift in thinking and to talk through the ideas. While I fully appreciate their concerns about work being paused on site, I hope I was able to convey that I believe we have an opportunity to make a good scheme even better.

“The proposed location for Leicester Market is a brand new cut-through that would link Market Place with Cank Street and the shops and bars of St Martin’s Square. Footfall would therefore be high – and the market’s proximity to the popular Food Hall would create a strong food-themed destination.

With Marks and Spencer announcing the closure of its Gallowtree Gate store, and with city centres everywhere becoming less reliant on traditional retail, it’s clear that Leicester city centre must keep evolving to ensure that it continues to be somewhere that people want to visit – and want to invest in.”

Early artist's impression of what the Cank Street link market could look like
Early artist's impression of what the Cank Street link market could look like -Credit:Leicester City Council

He added: “This new proposal would provide our market traders with the clean, contemporary and attractive market area they need – and provide the city with a striking open space that could become home to the Christmas ice rink, the summer beach, live performances, outdoor cinema, food and drink festivals, national celebrations, and even open-top bus parades for our brilliant sports clubs.

“Of course there’d be work to do to upgrade and refurbish the beautiful old buildings that surround the space, and to attract the cafés and bars that would help to animate it, but our intention would be to seek funding to support the conservation work and to work with development partners to bring new life to the area.

“I’m now convinced that the right thing to do is to pause work on the current scheme to give people a chance to have their say, and I look forward to hearing those views.” Anyone who wishes to comment on the plan can email Sir Peter at TheMayor@leicester.gov.uk