Delayed Leeds shops scheme hoped to boost traders

The construction site by Morrisons Rothwell, in Leeds. Picture: Simon Hulme
The construction site by Morrisons Rothwell, in Leeds. Picture: Simon Hulme
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The final phase of a delayed supermarket development could see further independent shops open in Rothwell town centre.

A barren spot of land in Commercial Street, dubbed ‘the Rothwell hole’, is now progressing into several new retail units which councillors see as “the final piece in the jigsaw” for the town’s high street.

The space, which was fenced off and left when the Morrisons supermarket and adjoining retail park was built in 1998, is in the midst of development and is to host four new shop units by May.

Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) recently undertook a survey of shoppers on Commercial Street and found that visitors want more independent shops – something he hopes will come through the Morrisons development.

He said: “This will be the final piece in the jigsaw on Commercial Street and creates a proper flow. Commercial Street has been cut off at one end for quite a period now, ever since the old Morrisons was built.”

As recently as seven years ago Commercial Street had several empty units but a revamp that saw it fully opened up for the first time in 40 years in 2012 helped to reinvigorate the area, with independents moving in.

Elaine Taylor, who has run the Glamourous Gifts shop on the street for three and a half years, claims trade has picked up in the last 12 months.

She said: “Commercial Street at the moment is very attractive, we’ve got a nice variation and the street has never looked as pretty as it does now.”

Owner of Brew Tea Rooms, Adrian Hartley, fears rumours of a charity shop and pound shop opening in the units are true, it could attract the “wrong type of clientele” despite development being “a positive thing”.

Morrisons property asset manager, Alistair Smith, said the firm is working to sign up retailers that “complement the existing town centre shopping offer”.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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