In the right corner Land Securities, the people who brought us our beloved out-of-town White Rose Centre and the soon-to-come Trinity Leeds development. In the left Hammerson, owners of the Bull Ring in Birmingham, Brent Cross shopping centre in London and developers of our soon-to-be-beloved Eastgate and Harewood Quarter shoparama.
Why is it handbags at dawn? Well, it’s all about a report commissioned by Leeds City Council over the future of retail development in Leeds (wouldn’t it be nice if they put equal effort into the future of poverty or empty homes?).
No more development at White Rose
The purpose of the report was to try and work out the future shopping needs in Leeds city centre and the town centres around it. So as to inform the Council’s future policy. One of the recommendations of the report (written by Colliers International and discussed at the Council on 9th August) was that there should be no more development at the White Rose.
Why? Because, the report said, that would be unfair on the recently opened Trinity Walk development in Wakefield, the long-stalled Westfield development in Bradford and new development in Leeds City Centre.
“While new proposals are emerging it would be inappropriate for development to take place at White Rose which might deter investment in committed city centre schemes, as well as denying trade to established town centres within Leeds and elsewhere,” it said.
Land Securities seriously miffed
The owners of the White Rose Centre aren’t best pleased. In a letter to Council leader Keith Wakefield on 3rd August, Land Securities let the Council know they were pretty unhappy with the report.
“Colliers opinions…pay no regard to the benefits of the White Rose Centre to the local economy…the report should not include discordant and unjustified paragraphs that pre-determine the strategic content of the Core Strategy…Colliers comments on the future direction of retail in Leeds give no weight to issues of regeneration”.
Land Securities urged the Council to reject the bits of the report that dealt with the issue of where additional retail development should be placed and said (rather darkly):
“We feel strongly that were the Colliers report to be published…the positive partnership working that has been established in South Leeds would be critically undermined and key strategic policy decisions for the Core Strategy would be unacceptably premature.”
“Any significant out-of-centre retail development will have an impact on the deliverability of the Eastgate scheme and investment in other identified centres,” Hammerson said in a letter on 8th August to Ms Speak of the Council’s Planning dept.
“Given the importance of the Eastgate scheme to Leeds City Centre and the wider benefits it would deliver, it is imperative that nothing should prejudice that scheme coming forward.”
The Colliers report and the positions of the two developers were discussed and “noted” at a meeting of the Council’s Development Plan Panel on 9th August.