Leeds Grand Arcade could be refurbished to transform 'bland and unwelcoming' features

Grand Arcade, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Grand Arcade, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

A Victorian arcade in Leeds could be refurbished after the surrounding area has seen a "revival".

-> These are the 22 Grade I-listed buildings in Leeds
The grade II-listed Grand Arcade in New Briggate, which dates from 1897 and backs on to the popular Merrion Street nightlife spot, could be transformed inside with period features.

Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust, is in favour of the potential rejuvenation as long as it is respectful of the site and says it could complement work being done at the Grand Theatre and the Howard Assembly Rooms to "revitalise" part of the city centre which could be seen as "a little bit tired".

-> Museum prepares to celebrate proud railway heritage of Leeds
He said: "The Grand Arcade, which is a wonderful Victorian arcade but seen as being on the fringe of the city centre, I think restoring it, as long as it's in-keeping with the original intentions and respectful of the structure, is a good thing."

Mr Hamilton added: "Leeds is unique in the United Kingdom in having such a real heritage of arcades and such high-quality arcades that have a lot of detail and were statements of their times about Leeds's ambition for a commercial centre."

But he said it was important to make sure that while their heritage is respected, 21st century uses are identified for such sites.

The Grand Arcade is the second-oldest of its kind in the city, according to planning documents.

In statements submitted with an application, Ripon-based Mowbray Design Architects say: "The Arcade has recently undergone a revival with the introduction of leisure units fronting Merrion Street which has helped to bring vitality back to the area.

"As a consequence of this the owners want to undertake some much needed refurbishment and repair work to the arcade to transform it again into a destination shopping area in Leeds."

Internal changes would include the replacement of ceramic tiles placed in 2000 with natural stone closer to the original style, repainting the entire interior "in a consistent and uniform colour scheme", the inclusion of dummy shopfronts, new signs and fresh roofing.

Lights would be replaced with period hanging lanterns.

Two "unsightly" smoke screens placed in 2000 would also be scrapped for automatic opening vents.

The dummy shopfronts would address a "blank and un-welcoming walk" through the arcade from Merrion Street, plans show.

The site was originally built in 1897 by the New Briggate Arcade Company and designed by architects Smith and Tweedle.

Its animated clock was installed two years later by Wm Potts & Sons of Leeds.

After a Save The Clock campaign, with funds raised by shoppers and Grand Arcade residents, the clock has since been refurbished.

It was unveiled in 2013 as the clock, which sits above the main entrance to the arcade on Vicar Lane, chimed again for the first time in more than 30 years.

Property developers ATC Properties Ltd have invested over £1m in the building in recent years and have already redeveloped the arcade into a new retail space for local start-up businesses.