YEP Says, June 9: We told you that if we built arena they would come

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WHEN bright and shiny new developments take their place on the Leeds skyline, the excitement at their arrival can be mixed with a fear that they could create a problem by stealing their predecessors’ thunder.

WHEN bright and shiny new developments take their place on the Leeds skyline, the excitement at their arrival can be mixed with a fear that they could create a problem by stealing their predecessors’ thunder.

For instance, the opening of Trinity sparked justifiable concerns that it would lead to holes appearing in the rest of the city centre as shoppers were drawn to the complex and away from existing shops.

The good news is that in the case of the First Direct Arena it is breathing new life into a corner of the city that was fast losing its lustre.

In the two years since the venue opened it has triggered a wave of much-needed investment in the area.

The latest coup for the so-called “Arena Quarter” is the opening of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s very first restaurant in his hometown.

And the location of Marco’s New York Italian is none other than the Merrion Centre which, half a century after opening its doors, had begun to look a little behind the times.

But, aided by a £50m facelift, it is now making the most of its proximity to the arena to open a new chapter.

The YEP – and many others – argued that taking the plunge with an arena would create a knock-on effect that would bring long-term benefits and investment. Pleasingly, history has proved such confidence to be well-placed.

Muddled thinking on school places

A PRIME example of the terrible school planning that has left some Leeds pupils and parents in limbo is the row over the new Khalsa Science Academy.

The Sikh ethos school opened in a temporary base next to the Sikh temple in Chapeltown two years ago.

It’s now set to have a permanent home in Alwoodley, despite its original application saying it was vital it be located in the heart of Chapeltown, where demand was greatest.

If the Government is approving schools and then looking for a site to house them, rather than the other way round, it’s no wonder this city is in such a muddle over school places.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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