Merrion Centre to get £13m injection of “vitality” and “vibrancy” for Arena visitors

Leeds’ ailing Merrion Centre shopping centre is to get a further £13m revamp to see if it can capitalise on the opening of the Leeds Arena.

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.

Slow decline

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.

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5 Responses to Merrion Centre to get £13m injection of “vitality” and “vibrancy” for Arena visitors

  1. Alison says:

    My immediate reaction to their report is: get a thesaurus.

  2. Secret Squirrel says:

    The DIY shop has actually been closed for quite a while – people just don’t seem to go around that part of the Merrion because the market makes it seem so desolate. It would be a real shame if places like Merkato, which *is* thriving, go just to put in some chain bar/restaurant. What needs to happen is for that space to have a cash injection to spruce it up, then invite independent retailers to create a real ‘go-to’ environment, a destination in itself, rather than piggybacking on the arena. They are obviously trying to create a Printworks-style venue, with no atmosphere and no heart. Which won’t fit in with the rest of the Merrion, which is actually a lovely little shopping centre that tucks away all the shops that a lot of Leeds residents do use, as opposed to attracting out-of-towners like the Victoria Quarter does.

    Of course Land Securities won’t listen to what people actually want.

  3. Mike Chitty says:

    Heard that Scheerer’s are pulling out as rents double. Perhaps get a nice food franchise or similar instead….Nice one. Best City or corporate clone?

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