Strip club plans for Leeds restaurant shelved

Little Tokyo, Leeds. Pics: James Hardisty.

Little Tokyo, Leeds. Pics: James Hardisty.

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LEEDS is changing rapidly – and despite what some naysayers might claim, it’s most certainly for the better.

So we were glad to see the city avoided taking a backwards step this week after plans for a new strip club were dropped.

Date:20th November 2013.'For Little Oliver............Little Tokyo, Leeds.'JH.1001/30c

Date:20th November 2013.'For Little Oliver............Little Tokyo, Leeds.'JH.1001/30c

The proposals would have seen much-loved Japanese restaurant Little Tokyo become a lap dancing bar, and could have turned what is an up-and-coming part of the city centre into something quite different.

It’s less about making moral judgements, and more about how out of touch a strip club would have been with the way the area has been evolving.

Cast your mind back just a few years ago before Trinity Leeds opened and it’s easy to see how it has developed.

The Central Road area has had a lot of investment of late, with Bird and Beast, Pieminister and Five Guys all opening restaurants nearby in the past few years, not to mention popular coffee shop Mrs Atha’s.

Money has also been ploughed into the nearby Central Arcade, giving it a well-deserved upgrade.

It is now more than just a cut-through, hosting a range of great independent stores and designers.

Not only would the strip club plans see the city lose one of its only Japanese restaurants, it would have been replaced with something completely at odds with its surroundings.

Whilst we appreciate there is a market for this type of business, the spot on Central Road may not have been the best site for it.

The area has seen a shift to more of a retail and dining focus since the launch of Trinity Leeds.

A similar pattern is emerging near the Victoria Gate development. Before the £165m scheme is open, you can already see the impact it’s having.

Take Big Lil’s, for example.

The notorious bar just a stone’s throw from the development went from a disused shell to a three-storey bar, live music venue and restaurant in a matter of months in a bid to cash in on the new footfall that would soon be coming its way.

And Whitelock’s recently went all upmarket and launched a snazzy new cocktail bar to complement its already popular pub area.

All these new additions and improvements only strengthen the city’s offering, and whilst we’re not wanting to wave goodbye to much-loved parts of Leeds’s history, it’s important to move with the times.

It seems most people share the view that this part of the city wasn’t the right fit for a strip club, as the plans for Little Tokyo were met with disapproval by some local residents and businesses.

However, shortly after the controversial plans were submitted to Leeds City Council, they were withdrawn.

The agent told City Buzz it wasn’t the backlash that sparked the U-turn, rather it was a ‘miscommunication’ between some of the parties involved. Whatever the reason, there will be big sigh of relief from locals.

When the council capped the number of lap dancing venues in Leeds to a maximum of five back in 2013, it meant those in more prominent places lost their licences.

Deep Blue, Red Leopard and Wildcats all closed, and now there are just three venues left.

But with room for two more, we’re sure this won’t be the last time someone with a bit of naked ambition tries their luck.

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