A big new tenant could imminently be moving in to the ground floor of Leeds’s iconic Corn Exchange, a year after the collapse of the high profile restaurant chain which previously occupied it.
Bosses at the iconic Grade I listed trade hub, which dates from 1864, have given their strongest indication yet that the ground floor and basement space - which has hosted just a handful of one-off events since the shock closure of Anthony’s Piazza last year - could be about to be occupied permanently again.
A licensing panel meeting at Leeds Civic Hall today will decide on a renewed application for a permanent premises licence.
GBR Phoenix Beard has applied for a licence for a major cultural and leisure space, which can hold up to 500 people at a time and which could operate as a conference facility, exhibition and events space and wedding venue.
A request for an alcohol sale licence until 1.30am has been put in.
However there are reservations from police and environmental officers because of its location near the city’s club heartland.
A report being considered by the Leeds City Council-appointed panel says the previous licence held purely for the basement of the Corn Exchange by Piazza by Anthony has lapsed since the licence holder Anthony’s Restaurant Ltd went into liquidation.
Asked by the YEP if the timing of the application meant a new tenant had been found, the applicants would only confirm that there had been extensive talks with prospective tenants, and “the time is right” to get the new licence rubber-stamped.
Rod Witton, director of GBR Phoenix Beard, said: “Leeds Corn Exchange is an iconic building on Leeds’s skyline and an important part of the city’s commercial history for which there is a huge amount of affection.
“The lower ground floor space offers an incredible opportunity for the right business and we know, from talking to prospective tenants recently, that the time is right for us to apply for an alcohol licence.
“We have held a number of public and private events recently in the lower ground space and, now that most of the retail units on the other two floors are fully occupied, when the whole building is busy and buzzing, there really is nowhere else like it in the North of England.
“Leeds Corn Exchange, alongside Leeds Trinity and the forthcoming Victoria Gate retail destinations, when fully operational will make Leeds hard to beat as a diverse and distinctive destination. Watch this space.”
** any new chapter is dependent on a licence being granted today.
However there have been concerns from police and environmental enforcement teams, both of whom have lodged objections to the application.
The report to the decision-making panel says the application “seeks to release up to 500 patrons into an area that already experiences disturbance from other venues in area”.
The Corn Exchange sits in a ‘red zone’ of the city centre, so marked because of the high risk of crime and disorder.