Victoria Gate Hotel: Plans for new Leeds hotel near John Lewis could be revived with £14m cash available

Nearly £14m worth of public money once committed to an unbuilt city centre development remains available to spend on a new scheme, it has emerged.
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Leeds City Council backed proposals to build an aparthotel on land it owns next to Kirkgate Market before the Covid pandemic, pledging around £13.8m towards its development in the process. The ‘Victoria Gate Hotel’, which would have effectively been a modern-day cross between apartments and a hotel, was never actually built, however, with planning permission lapsing in 2021.

But in a new twist last week the council revealed early proposals to build a 143-room hotel, gym and new commercial units on the same George Street site, near to John Lewis. Although a decision on whether or not this scheme will go ahead is some way off, city councillors will publicly discuss the idea at a meeting this Thursday.

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But the council has confirmed that the money it pledged to the previous plans has not been lost and remains available to use on the hotel, if the new proposals do go ahead.

CGI image of the previous Victoria Gate Hotel proposal, which was never builtCGI image of the previous Victoria Gate Hotel proposal, which was never built
CGI image of the previous Victoria Gate Hotel proposal, which was never built

A total of £12.9m was pledged by the council to the old scheme in 2017, with a further £917,000 committed two years later to help with construction costs. Although developers Town Centre Securities (TCS) were behind the proposals, the council was due a 50 per cent share in the venue’s lease.

Now, however, the authority says none of the money was ever actually handed over in the end. Although a council report on the new proposals does not mention Town Centre Securities, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has been told the firm will still be involved.

Under the current arrangements, the council says TCS would source an operator for the hotel and would oversee the delivery of the project, but the costs of building will be met by the taxpayer. However, the council would own 100 per cent of the hotel once it’s completed.

An additional £430,000 was spent by the council before Covid on relocating traders from the George Street site to clear space for redevelopment.