New vision unveiled for landmark Leeds building

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Developers have revealed ambitious new plans for the future of a city centre landmark that was ravaged by fire.

Rushbond intends to turn The Majestic in Leeds into a five-storey office scheme with a new crowned glass roof that will sit on the existing structure.

The former cinema and nightclub, which dates back to 1922, had been renovated with a view to being let as a leisure destination before fire ripped through the grade two listed building on September 30 2014.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Rushbond director Mark Finch said the market had changed in the last two years and an office development was now the most commercially-viable option.

He said: “What we have to try and achieve is something we can deliver, something that’s viable and something that’s lettable, giving it its best opportunity. We had to look at every opportunity again and work out how the building could be used. From an office point of view, it creates activity and it’s public. It’s a great location next to the railway station.”

The Leeds-based developer, which bought the building in 2010, is planning a major investment to turn it into a new 65,000 sq ft office development with floor plates of around 10,000 sq ft, along with leisure and cafe spaces.

The speculative scheme, which is to be presented to Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel on July 7, sees a new contemporary glass addition, along with bronze colonnades, on top of the historic structure.

Mr Finch said: “Originally it was a cinema so it was designed as a black box with all the theatre and drama on the inside. The challenge for an office-based scheme is to reverse that because the drama needs to be on the outside.”

He added: “It is a huge investment to create this product. It’s quite a dramatic change so it’s taken some time to bring it together. The plan is respectful to the memory and we think we can do something very special with the building.”

Existing windows, which were widened during the previous redevelopment, will be widened further under the latest plan in keeping with the Grecian pattern.

Rushbond intends to create a grand cinematic entrance in the foyer, which will recreate the arch that would have sat around the original cinema screen. Meanwhile, the old Palm Court area at the back of the building will be turned into a light-filled staircase with a recreation of the building’s original dome on top.

The plans are supported by the council leader, chamber of commerce and Leeds Civic Trust.

A planning application is due to be submitted in August and subject to planning, work could commence in early 2017.