25 facts about White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds as it celebrates its silver anniversary

Twice as much steel was used in its construction as the Blackpool Tower - and now a hive of 100,000 bees live on its roof.

It's likely neither of those facts immediately spring to mind when you think of Leeds' White Rose Shopping Centre.

But as it celebrates its 25th birthday this weekend, it has pulled together a list of 25 things that people might not know about the site.

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1. White Rose was opened on March 25 1997, a £64 million pound development on the site of the former Morley sewage works

White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds is celebrating its 25th birthday.White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds is celebrating its 25th birthday.
White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds is celebrating its 25th birthday.

2. White Rose sits on a 76-acre site, the equivalent of 246 Olympic swimming pools

3. Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft is the centre’s accessibility ambassador

4. Works commenced to build White Rose on July 10 1995 and took 87 weeks

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5. 1.3 million bricks were used during construction. If placed end to end, these would cover 2,020 miles - the same distance from Morley to Tenerife

6. Twice as much steel was used in the construction of White Rose than Blackpool Tower

7. On opening, White Rose had its own radio station streamed live from the centre

8. White Rose was the first UK Shopping Centre to start a ‘Mall Walkers’ programme, offering a safe and dry place for guests to tot up their steps. Launched in 2003, it is still running to this day

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9. White Rose has 5,000 free parking spaces on site – if lined up, those 5,000 cars would cover the distance from White Rose to Leeds Bradford Airport

10. The distance to walk from one end of White Rose to the other is one quarter of a mile

11. The Village, White Rose’s outdoor leisure development of restaurants and a Cineworld cinema was added in 2017 at a cost of £25 million – the 65,000 sq ft extension is the equivalent size of the Leeds United Football Club pitch at Elland Road

12. White Rose’s Cineworld cinema has 11 screens including IMAX and one of the UK’s only ScreenX systems, a 270-degree viewing experience

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13. White Rose has one of the largest installations of solar panels in the UK – its 2,902 panels generate enough electricity to power 200 homes for a year

14. A hive of 100,000 bees live on White Rose’s roof and are tended to by their very own on-site beekeeper

15. White Rose has an electricity-free rainwater system which re-uses water from downpours to result in 40,000 ‘free’ flushes per year

16. 23 staff have been at White Rose or its retailers for all 25 years since it opened

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17. White Rose created the UK’s largest bouquet of white roses to celebrate Yorkshire Day in 2016

18. The centre won the ‘Loo of the Year’ award, as well as being awarded Bronze in a 2022 ranking of the top UK shopping centres for breastfeeding mums. Its facilities include baby change areas, showers, and a Changing Places space to meet the needs of visitors with accessibility requirements

19. White Rose hosts its own Community Awards every year, with previous winners including Leeds’ Children’s Mayor, Leeds Ahead Partnership founder Stephanie Burras, and local amateur boxer Abby Briggs

20. White Rose supports a number of local organisations and charities including Child Friendly Leeds and its current charity of the year Leeds South and East Foodbank

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21. Making the centre comfortable and welcoming for all visitors is important to the team at White Rose – it worked with Specialist Autism Services to create an autism-friendly guide to the centre, available for free at customer services and on its website, and hosts weekly quiet hours from 10am until midday every Tuesday to provide a calmer shopping environment

22. White Rose diverts 100 per cent of its waste from landfill – more than 70 per cent of waste produced on-site is recycled

23. The centre has its own woodland walk boasting a variety of wildlife and foliage, including some protected species

24. A number of brands have made White Rose home to flagship stores, including Next, River Island, and a new Marks and Spencer due to open in 2023

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25. White Rose has close relationships with South Leeds schools including Cockburn School, which designs the trophies for its annual Community Awards and creates them in its glass room, and Asquith Primary School, which hosted the design competition to create a special logo for its 25th birthday

The centre is marking its silver anniversary with a 1990s-themed party weekend on March 26 and 27.

There will be game show-inspired activities including Plinko, The Price is Right, and Play Your Cards Right, sweet treats from the nineties and a live DJ in the central atrium playing hits from Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child and Backstreet Boys

The centre will be decorated with a giant birthday cake, complete with a special version of the White Rose logo created to mark the occasion by a pupil at Asquith Primary School in Morley.

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Steven Foster, Centre Director at White Rose, says: “We’re delighted to be marking 25 years of White Rose, and pleased that we can invite guests to celebrate with us in person.

“We’re proud of our achievements over the past quarter-century – from opening our new leisure extension The Village, to installing almost 3,000 solar panels on our roof, and there’s plenty to look forward to including the new nearby train station and a relocated, flagship Marks and Spencer. Here’s to another 25 years and beyond.”

For more information on White Rose and its birthday celebrations, visit www.white-rose.co.uk

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