A report going to the council’s executive board for approval next Wednesday (7th March) says that unless the deal is amended Hammerson “will be unable to bring forward a commercially viable scheme with John Lewis as the main anchor store”.
Details of the amendments and their financial implications are being kept secret in confidential annexes to the report, but the changes will enable John Lewis to be trading at Eastgate by 2016.
When he was in Leeds last November, John Lewis managing director Andy Street made it clear that there were several outstanding questions that needed to be sorted out by the Council before the Eastgate scheme became viable, among them the “compulsory purchase of land”, car parking, bus diversions and “public realm” issues.
Stressing urgency, today’s report says that “any delay in completing the legal documentation as soon as practically possible may have an impact on the critical path of approvals which are being sought both from Hammerson and John Lewis Boards in March.”
“It is believed that there is now a window of opportunity to secure the delivery of John Lewis in the not too distant future along with the improvement and regeneration of a significant part of the city which has housed poor quality ‘at grade’ car parking for a considerable period of time,” it adds.
As far as the compulsory purchase orders of (unspecified) land are concerned, the report says that Hammerson and the Council have been keeping interested parties “as well informed as possible”. Regular meetings have been held with the Civic Trust, the Kirkgate Market Forum and there has been dialogue with the Friends of the Kirkgate Market. The affected landowners are being updated regularly.
Anyone know what land they’re talking about?