Traders at Leeds shopping centre fear their businesses could be demolished

Worried shop traders at a shopping centre in a Leeds suburb have had their future thrown into doubt after draft proposals to revamp the site appear to suggest their demolition.

Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 5:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 5:36 pm
Traders and volunteers campaigning against the possible demolition of their businesses. Sarah Hardwick, owner of barbers Lads and Dads, with Madge Davey, Director of Kidz in Kampz Community Shop.

Businesses and charities which have units at the back of Holt Park Shopping Centre are desperate for answers after learning of discussions between the centre’s landowners - supermarket giant Asda and Leeds City Council.

An email, seen by the YEP, talks of a “proposed land transaction” between the two being “provisionally agreed”, to allow for Asda to improve their store which occupies the majority of the centre.

Among the proposals listed in the email is for Asda to transfer ownership of an area of land at the rear of the store where it says there are a “number of vacant retail units” which would be “demolished and a cleared site transferred to the council”.

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But some of these units are currently occupied - albeit on leases with three-six month get-out clauses - by businesses and charities who are now fearing for their future.

Madge Davey, 74, has run Kidz in Kampz charity at the site for the past 17 years. She said: “I set this up to help the community in refugee camps and to look after the community here. It’s important that I maintain a presence.

“The fact that I’m a great-grandma and I started this, single-handed, is a blow to me personally. I can’t see it slipping away. I don’t want it to slip away.”

She added: “The public want the shops to stay. They don’t want the heart pulled out of their community. We are under threat and we won’t have anywhere else to go.”

Sarah Hardwick, who runs nearby Lads and Dads barbers, said she agrees the area needs a revamp but needs to know what that means for her business.

“It’s the not-knowing for all of us.

“I was looking to advertise for staff this year but I daren’t do that now.

“They have to give me six months notice but then I need to decide if I try to find new premises, which is not the easiest around here ,or I don’t know whether they would offer me a new shop, if they are building new shops. It’s all a bit of a mess.”

Both Asda and Leeds City Council have stressed that the discussions are at an early stage and no decisions have yet been made.

A spokesman for Asda said: “We are reviewing the options at our Holt Park site and keeping in close contact with all parties to ensure we reach the best possible outcome. Plans are provisional and nothing has been agreed. We are always looking at ways to improve our customers’ shopping experience and developing our stores is one way to do this.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “The council has been in longstanding discussions with Asda, regarding their proposals for investment into their store at this location and the links to the council’s adjacent land ownership. A number of options are being considered but the council has not made any decisions at the current time.”