The transformation of a historic Leeds building from a fire-ravaged shell to a gleaming new office block will help create a world class new gateway to the city, it is hoped.
The Majestic building - which previously housed a cinema and a nightclub, and the roof of which was destroyed in a fire in 2014 - is to be turned into a six-storey office block.
And at a meeting yesterday, the city’s most influential planning panel gave the scheme a huge thumbs up, praising the “magnificent” glass dome design which pays homage to the building’s past but perfectly blends old and new.
Councillor Peter Gruen said: “I actually think it’s a remarkable building. This will make a massive positive impact on the street scene and coming into our city centre. It was a derelict, burnt out eyesore.
“But what is happening in terms of the transformation of this building is quite magnificent and should be applauded.”
Councillor Neil Walshaw praised developer Rushbond PLC’s attempt at “marrying the old and the new” and the “lightness of touch” of its design.
His colleague Asghar Khan said the project would be a “cool and refreshing” addition to the city centre, adding: “We can’t wait until it starts.”
And councillor Jules Heselwood added that the impact on people walking out of the train station and seeing the new look Majestic will be “absolutely phenomenal”.
The Majestic started life as a theatre before becoming a popular nightclub in the 1990s.
Plans to reinvigorate it were stalled when a huge fire destroyed much of the Grade II listed building in September 2014.
Its latest incarnation will see it become a six-storey office block, with restoration work including a glass wall referencing the original cinema screen.
Last night’s meeting at Leeds Civic Hall was told that this was “very much a reinterpretation” of the building.
There was concern from representatives of the Cinema and Theatre Association who said “more effort” should have been made to conserve some of the finer historical aspects, a planned lightwell was “misconceived” and the height should be reduced by a storey to be closer to the original.”
There was also some concern about the “top hat” design of the new glass-heavy roof, which was decribed as “dominant”.
However Mark Finch, director of Rushbond PLC, hailed the green-lighting of the proposal as a key moment for Leeds city centre, and one which had seen the “planets align”.
“The fire was a huge tragedy, but we have to move forward and positively plan for the long term future of this building,” he said.
“These are really exciting times, we think, for the city and City Square.
“There are not many cities where you can come out [of the railway station] and you hit the main square straightaway, and I would like the Majestic to [do] that.
“We want it to contribute to a fantastic city.”
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