Summer start aim for £650m Trinity scheme

LAND SECURITIES hopes to start work on the £650m Trinity Leeds scheme as early as this summer following strong demand from retailers keen to secure a site at the flagship shopping centre.

Property giant Land Securities said it has already lined up retailers for 44 per cent of the one million sq ft site and revealed to the Yorkshire Post four new high profile residents – fashion chains River Island and Oasis and restaurant chains Yo! Sushi and Carluccio's.

They will join Marks & Spencer, Boots, Next, Top Shop, BHS, H&M and Everyman Cinema, which have already signed up to the scheme.

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Gerald Jennings, Land Securities' retail portfolio director for the North, said 32 per cent of the centre is now legally pre-let and a further 12 per cent is in solicitors' hands.

"We hope to secure the rest of our target within the next month or two," he said. "Having secured 44 per cent of the scheme some two and a half years before we open is really very good. Most developers would be very pleased with such a figure. It's a good performance."

Work on the site will definitely start this year and Mr Jennings said he hopes it can commence in late summer.

"I'd be disappointed if we didn't start work before the winter," he said.

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The plan is for retailers to move in during October 2012 with the aim of having the centre fully up and running for Christmas 2012.

Work on Trinity Leeds stalled in April 2009 as confidence among retailers slumped.

While the scheme was put on hold, Land Securities' design team worked on a number of improvements including the creation of a new restaurant situated next to Holy Trinity Church.

"We hope to change the dynamics of this whole area and provide a true destination in its own right," said Mr Jennings. "The restaurant will command breathtaking views over the grade one listed church and also into the heart of our scheme, while adding to the stylish caf and restaurant quarter in this area of Leeds and helping to extend the city's night-time economy."

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In south Leeds, Land Securities' said its flagship White Rose Shopping Centre continues to perform strongly.

Footfall for the year to March 31 rose to 13,040,695, an increase of 1.5 per cent compared with the 12,848,850 shoppers who came through the centre's doors in the previous year.

Land Securities said while the valuation of its entire portfolio rose 10.3 per cent, White Rose's value had outperformed this increase. The company did not quantify the rise.

The latest figures show that White Rose shoppers are spending around 75 each on non-food per visit, up 17 on last year. They are spending an average of an hour and a half at the centre, an increase of 20 minutes on three years ago.

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James Lermuth, White Rose area manager, said the centre has recently signed up H&M as a new tenant.

"We have seen a big leap in spend at White Rose," said Mr Lermuth. "It's a very strong centre with very loyal shoppers."

Announcing its annual results yesterday, Land Securities hailed a "dramatic turnaround" in the commercial property market as the group swung back into profit.

The firm posted annual pre-tax profits of 1.07bn for the year to March 31,reversing a 4.7bn loss previously.

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Chief executive Francis Salway said: "The year saw a dramatic turnaround in the UK commercial property market, with falling values in the first six months giving way to a rapid recovery in the second half."

The group expects property values to rise over the next five years, but added "the path may not always be smooth".

A big yes! to leisure project

A huge 350m business and leisure venue which is set to be built in Yorkshire has moved a step closer after changes to the project were given approval by planners.

The massive YES! Project, which is being developed by Oak Holdings, was originally given planning permission in 2007 but a series of amendments were made to the original scheme.

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This meant that the whole application, which relates to a 327-acre site close to the Rother Valley Country Park in Rotherham, had to be re-examined by a planning committee.

The altered scheme has now been passed unanimously and once the decision has been rubberstamped by the Government, the firm will be free to go ahead with the scheme.

The YES! Project has been billed as the biggest covered business and leisure destination in Europe.