After planning approval of the Victoria Gate development at the end of September 2013, phase one is set to begin this spring and the 110,000m2, three- phase project is expected to be completed by August 2016.
Victoria Gate is to become home to a number of high quality designer brands; a flagship John Lewis store; further retail outlets; a number of cafes, restaurants and leisure spaces, as well as a multi-storey car park holding up to 800 cars. Leeds City Council and project developers Hammerson, are working together to create the scheme.
“We have been working with Leeds City Council and Hammerson for a long time now and getting planning approval means the steps to creating a flagship John Lewis store can now properly begin.” explains Jeremy Collins, property director for John Lewis. “We believe it will regenerate the area and help the city move up in the rankings of shopping destinations in the UK.”
A low carbon energy centre will be situated next to the site; allowing green heating, natural air conditioning and enough electricity for the development and surrounding retailers and home-owners. The introduction of solar panels and natural ventilation systems will be part of this energy efficient development, ensuring there are no costly or environmentally damaging consequences of the retail centre.
Rowena Hall, the executive manager of City Development Department, says “Leeds City Council is very excited about the project. We have been working closely with Hammerson over the past few years to bring forward what is set to be an outstanding new retail and leisure development.”
Hall continues: “The scheme is considered to offer a unique opportunity to create a new, vibrant retail led development, transforming an unfinished corner of the city centre and bringing wider physical, environmental, social and economic, regeneration benefits for Leeds. It will also prove to be a catalyst in the wider regeneration of surrounding areas including Kirkgate Market, the Grand Arcade and Quarry Hill.”
The development aims to capture the heritage of Leeds and continue with the artistic structures that it’s arcades are so famous for. With the help from architecture firm ACME, the project will offer two arcades which will link the developing structures and those already in place, such as Victoria Quarter. The outer layers of the John Lewis store will also take inspiration from the textile industry Leeds is historically known for.
“Victoria Gate will be a welcome addition to Leeds’ retail scene,” explains Victoria Bartram, account manager at Hammerson, “Trinity has already raised retailers’ and consumers’ aspirations of the city and has delivered space for well-loved high street brands.
“Victoria Gate will strengthen Leeds’ positioning as the leading retail destination in the North, while at the same time adding value to Leeds’ local economy and community, we want to attract premium and aspirational retailers to Victoria Gate and are currently in discussions with some.”
Clare Poolman, project support officer at Leeds City Council, describes the possible impacts for the scheme: “Victoria Gate is significant in that it will bring a vacant site back into use, regenerating this part of the city centre and bringing new anchor retailers to Leeds like John Lewis. Trinity has already increased the catchment of Leeds, with additional new visitors from the west, north and east plus had international PR due to the fact that it was the only shopping centre development in Western Europe in 2013. Trinity re-established Leeds as a significant city destination nationally and we would expect this trend to continue, even accelerate, with Victoria Gate.”
The £600m retail development will be based between the A64 and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which has been unoccupied for decades. Sharon Nall, media officer from Leeds and Partners says: “Following a public consultation held earlier in 2013, more than 91% of respondents said they were in favour of the site being regenerated.” Nall also explains: “Trinity Leeds has provided a welcome boost to the economy through job creation and tourism. It has been a landmark development for Leeds in 2013 and has helped to provide a springboard for further investment projects, including Victoria Gate.”
The introduction of Victoria Gate will not only be sustainable and environmentally friendly but it will also help Leeds City Council in their quest to be the best city in the UK. Leeds is expected to move into fourth position in the largest retail centres in the UK for 2014, but after this development, Leeds will be capable of climbing even higher on the retail centre scale.