The Ridings Shopping Centre in Yorkshire: First shops move into the newly purchased centre as community groups relocate

A Yorkshire shopping centre which had become a home to a range of community groups and not-for-profits who had been rental free as part of a creative initiative, has announced that a lot of groups may need to be relocated within the centre to make way for new independent businesses.
The Ridings Shopping Centre in WakefieldThe Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield
The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield

The announcement has had a mixed reaction from tenants who are part of the Makey Wakey scheme within The Ridings shopping centre in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Wakefield-based The Art House has run the Makey Wakey scheme within The Ridings shopping centre which gives the local community free rental on a rolling one month basis which means help towards business rates are covered.

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But after it was confirmed that The Ridings had been purchased by a family run business, people have been uncertain about their future in the centre.

Zahid Iqbal, the new owner of The Ridings Centre has said he is committed to both the partnership with The Art House’s Makey Wakey initiatives and to all other local charities and community groups who benefit from free space in the centre.

Mr Iqbal said: “I love the fact that the centre is used by so many local community groups and businesses, I’m delighted to be continuing our partnership with The Art House in providing free rent units in the centre for those who need them alongside our ever-growing retail proposition”.

Recently two users of the Makey Wakey scheme have been relocated to make way for new independent businesses wanting to come into the scheme on a fixed long-term lease, however, Mr Iqbal said he is also realistic that he may not be able to relocate all the Makey Wakey businesses and added, that recently he had offered two different units, that he felt were suitable to a business on the same free rental terms, but these were deemed unsuitable.

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Sydney Thornbury, CEO, of The Art House “We are working closely with Mr Iqbal and with all our Makey Wakey organisations to try to make this transition period as supportive and positive as possible. Mr Iqbal has gone out of his way to find alternative spaces for as many Makey Wakey organisations as possible. He has also offered very favourable rental terms to those who are ready to make the leap into renting their own shops - a leap we strongly support CICs to do if they can.”

Numerous, local charities and groups benefit from free space on the mall itself, including AgeUK Wakefield, Wakefield District Sight Aid, Gasped – men’s mental health, Cancer Research and Wakefield Deaf organisation to name a few.

Hayley Grocock, Chief Executive Officer, of Wakefield District Sight Aid said: “When we were able to restart our face-to-face activities again after Covid, we were looking for somewhere where our blind and partially sighted service users would feel safe and welcomed. Our partnership with The Ridings has enabled us to not only restart our outreach programme but to attract more visitors than ever before. We now run two very successful monthly coffee mornings from The Ridings and other events too like our Living Well with Sight Loss courses and Equipment Demonstration and Advice Days. These events really do make a huge difference to people’s lives and we’re so grateful to our colleagues at The Ridings for supporting our work and helping us increase the impact of what we do.”