Plans for 17-storey tower to replace part of the Merrion Centre

One entrance to the old cinema in the Merrion Centre.
One entrance to the old cinema in the Merrion Centre.

Plans to demolish part of a Leeds shopping centre – including its historic cinema – and replacing it with a 17-storey tower, will go before planning chiefs this week.

A pre-application will be discussed to build the tower, which would be a mix of offices and retail, on the north side of the Merrion Centre.

The 6.5-acre site is currently home to shops including Bonmarche and Home Bargains, along with a cinema that has not been in use since the late 1970s.

The proposed building would have ground floor retail spaces, three floors of co-working space and 13 floors of offices.

The plans come despite news last month that the former cinema site was up for let after decades of dereliction.
The cinema, which was open for only 13 years, is located above Home Bargains. Some projection equipment and seats have been removed but many of the original features remain including drapes, carpets, posters and the screen.

A council report into the pre-application states: “The scheme is proposed to create flexible office and co-working space as well as creating a reconfigured retail unit at ground floor level, facing in to the mall.

“The site is within the prime shopping area of the city centre and as such the retention of retail presence is acceptable for the host unit and the wider Merrion Centre.

“The office and co-working space would be served by a ground floor lobby but would have its work spaces laid out at levels from the first to the 17th floor. As such the proposed office space addition would not be detrimental to the retail functions of the Merrion Centre, the prime shopping area or to Leeds City Centre’s role as a regional shopping centre.”

The pre-application will go before members of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel on Thursday, December 6. A more detailed application for the site is expected to be submitted in the coming months.