Work began this summer on giving the southern end of the Merrion Centre a facelift. Now plans have been put forward to smarten up the north-eastern side of the Centre on Merrion Way – the bit that’s closest to the new Arena.
Under the plans – which are being discussed by Leeds City Council on 27th October – owners Town Centre Holdings are going to carry out extensive internal and external work on the multi-storey Merrion Centre car park (farewell pebble-dash cladding) and revitalise the commercial premises along Merrion Way.
As the Council’s report on the plan says, it’s all about giving the area more “vitality” and “vibrancy” for when the Arena visitors hit town in 2013.
“The Merrion Market has been in slow decline for many years and there is a high level of vacancy. This has a negative impact upon vitality and vibrancy around the northern edge of the Merrion Centre…
“Many of the units on the northern edge presently turn their back on Merrion Way/Wade Lane affecting the appearance and the vibrancy of the area…Increased vitality in premises along Merrion Way would also help to support the retail function of the Merrion Centre as a whole.”
So instead of inward-facing DIY stores, we can expect outward-looking, vibrant food, leisure and entertainment spaces – the kinds of places which would “reinforce the function of this part of the city centre as a major cultural and visitor centre”.
“Significant number” of jobs
It’s possible that after the changes there may be none of the old retail units left, the report admits.
“Although there is a potential that all A1 retail units could be lost along the frontage it is considered that the proposals will contribute to the overall vitality and vibrancy of the area,” it notes.
The report says that the proposals will lead to the creation of “a significant number of jobs”.
Work on the revamp is set to start in February 2012 and be finished in March 2013 to coordinate with the opening of the Arena.