Two of the key issues that have been holding up progress have been car parking and “public realm” (open air stuff like plazas, streets, parks and squares).
As we suggested might happen last month, the plan now is for the council to buy Millgarth police station and demolish it, freeing up land for a car park, with part of the site handed over to Eastgate developers Hammerson “for the construction of the John Lewis building”.
According to a report going to a meeting of the council’s executive next week (18th July), talks with the West Yorkshire Police Authority are well advanced, with terms for the sale
It’s not exactly clear from the report what is going where under these latest plans. Details of the transaction and the associated plans/maps are being kept secret in a confidential appendix to the report.
West Yorkshire Police are building themselves (with the help of PFI credits) a brand new HQ at Elland Rd, which is scheduled to be ready for occupation in Spring 2014.
That would leave plenty of time for a car park to get built at Millgarth before the target John Lewis opening date of 2016 – though it’s not going to be straightforward given that the Lady Beck runs through the site.
Cash for “enhanced public realm”
The executive is being asked to approve the purchase of Millgarth and the demolition costs, and to stump up a further £885,000 for “enhanced and additional public realm” on Vicar Lane and George Street – another issue that’s been worrying John Lewis.
There’s no confirmation in the report of persistent rumours that Eastgate is going to be delivered in two phases – unless it’s by omission.
The only part of the development that does get mentioned in the report is the part in red in the map on the right – the bit where John Lewis, 20-40 retail units and maybe a casino are going to go.