two major Leeds retail developments worth a total of £530 million have finally received the go-ahead from the city’s planning chiefs.
Blueprints for the £130m Victoria Gate scheme in the city centre, as well as the £400m Thorpe park business and retail park in east Leeds, were given the green light at a meeting of the city plans panel last night.
The approval for Victoria Gate - which includes a flagship John Lewis store - means construction work on phase one can start in spring 2014. The mall is expected to open in autumn 2016.
Committee members yesterday gave glowing praise to the design of the scheme, which will also house more than 30 high-end shops.
There was special praise for the striking diamond-inspired facade of the John Lewis store, which will link to the existing Victoria Quarter via a two-street arcade. It will include a multi-storey car park for more than 800 cars to be built on the site of the existing Millgarth police station once the officers move to a new purpose-built building in Elland Road.
Joe Swindells, project director for Victoria Gate developers Hammerson, said last night’s thumbs up was “a major next step towards getting construction underway”.
“We are fully committed to creating a retail development that will not only reaffirm Leeds’s status as a top retail destination for luxury and aspirational brands in the UK, but will also add value to Leeds’s local economy and community,” he said.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for the economy and development, Coun Richard Lewis, added: “Victoria Gate is going to provide a huge boost to the Leeds and wider city region economies.”
The Thorpe Park project will now be passed to Ministers for ultimate approval, as it involves green belt land and is a departure from normal planning policy.