A heritage watchdog has condemned plans to demolish a historic building in Leeds city centre to make way for a temporary car parking scheme.
Hammerson, the developer behind the Victoria Gate retail project, wants permission from the city council to knock down a number of buildings in the Vicar Lane area – including the former Lyons Works clothing factory – to create more than 200 new parking spaces.
The threatened buildings lie on land to the north of Eastgate that has been earmarked for phase two of the Victoria Gate scheme.
But, with a date yet to be set for the start of work on that second phase, Leeds Civic Trust has voiced concern at the prospect of the bulldozers moving in. Trust director Dr Kevin Grady said: “We are strongly opposed to the demolition of buildings of quality in advance of construction contracts being signed.”
The proposed 795-space surface car park would be bounded by Templar Place, Lady Lane, Vicar Lane and the A64(M) inner ring road. It would replace three existing car parks – known as Templar North, Templar South and Edward Street – that together comprise 542 spaces.
Buildings that would be demolished to provide room for the expansion include the former bus station at the junction of Vicar Lane and Lady Lane as well as the old Lyons Works factory, which dates back to the 1910s. It is unoccupied but until recently was home to Chinese restaurants and shops.
Planning documents say the car park would be in place for five years or until work on phase two of Victoria Gate starts, whichever is sooner.
Hammerson director of retail development Robin Dobson said: “The parking we are proposing will deliver more spaces, introduce disabled and parent and toddler bays, which currently don’t exist, alongside improved pedestrian routes and a nicer environment.”
Construction is already under way on Victoria Gate’s first phase, which will include a John Lewis store south of Eastgate.