Yorkshire blazes the retail trail

YORKSHIRE is bucking national shopping centre development figures as the region’s cities creep up the retail rankings with the construction of new schemes, according to property experts.

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While development activity within the shopping centre sector remains at a recessionary low across the country, Yorkshire’s development activity is booming in some towns and cities.

CBRE’s UK Shopping Centre Pipeline report revealed that while shopping centre construction has slowed across the UK with proposals almost halving from 30m sq ft in 2009 to just 15.5m sq ft today, two of the four schemes under construction in the first half of 2014 were in Leeds and Bradford.

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Westfield’s £275m Broadway development in Bradford is on course to be delivered in autumn 2015, while the £150m first phase of Hammerson’s Victoria Gate in Leeds, which will bring John Lewis to the city, is due to be completed in autumn 2016.

The other schemes were Battersea Power Station and Kings Cross in London.

Leeds is the principal mover in a national top shopping venues table, rising from fourth to third place in Javelin Group’s annual ranking of the UK’s top 3,000 retail venues.

The retail consultancy’s recent report showed that Yorkshire is currently only 2.52 per cent behind London in terms of the amount under construction, mainly due to the opening of Trinity shopping centre in March 2013.

Andrew Milton, director of retail asset services in CBRE’s Leeds office, said: “Hammerson’s Victoria Gate which will see John Lewis coming to the city for the first time, Westfield’s long awaited Broadway development in Bradford and the recently opened Vangarde Retail Park in York all demonstrate that retailing within the Yorkshire region continues to be strong in those important key locations.”

He added: “Although London and the south east remains dominant in terms of development and retailer preferences, strong retailing locations within the UK will always do well including good quality market towns.

“This is evidenced by Wykeland’s mixed use development in Beverley which is due to open late 2015.

“The relative importance of these developments can be seen in Javelin Groups annual ranking of retail venues published in September 2014, whilst London’s West End continues to be the leading shopping destination the principal mover at the top of the rankings is Leeds.

“Following the opening of Trinity it has moved up into third place behind Glasgow and Manchester and who is to say that Leeds will not rise higher when Victoria Gate opens?”

Javelin Group’s report ranked York Designer Outlet as the third Top Factory Outlet Centre, while Meadowhall came in fifth place in the Top 20 Shopping Centres and Parkgate/Retail World in Rotherham also took fifth place in the Top Retail Parks category.

But Mr Milton believes there is still room for additional mall development in the region.

“The role played by shopping centres in Leeds compared to the high street, their dominance, is only 52 per cent,” he said.

He added: “This suggests that in Leeds and in York (the latter ranked 20th and with a mall dominance of only 11 per cent) additional mall development might indeed be possible in the future.”