The opening of Victoria Gate and the city’s first John Lewis store is the epitome of retail development in the city says a senior councillor.
Speaking ahead of today’s long-awaited opening of the £165m project, Cllr Richard Lewis told the Yorkshire Evening Post that it would probably be the last major shopping centre to be built in the centre.
Now the doors have, after years of talks and legal wranglings, finally been opened, Leeds City Council can switch its focus to other elements of investing in the city economy and infrastructure.
Cllr Lewis said: “There is a limit to the retail core. Leeds has a smaller retail element than say Manchester.
“Leeds is quite compact and I think people would say it is not going to see a big expansion of retail in years to come.”
Victoria Gate did not follow the path that was intended he added given the recession and the changing nature of shopping habits.
The original idea for that part of the city was to develop Eastgate as well and have retail on both sides of the main road.
The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that the second phase of the project is now likely to take the form of office buildings.
Cllr Lewis said: “Victoria Gate has not developed in the way it was going to but that is the economy and the changing world of retail.
“The other part of the scheme has not come forward but we all have a view that it will be office, employment and leisure use rather than retail.
“There is clearly a lot of interest in developing office space around the city but that is a different kettle of fish.
“Office space needs have changed. People having their own offices has disappeared, hot desking has taken over, even as a council we are getting rid of offices to save money and work more quickly.
“We need to have grade A space and Leeds has a shortage.”