LEADING politicians and business figures have heralded a £165m shopping development in the heart of Yorkshire’s largest city as a watershed in its economic future.
Senior councillors in Leeds have hailed the Victoria Gate site as “an amazing addition” to the city’s retail sector as the countdown gets underway for the development’s opening in October.
Two new retailers – Neom Organics and Australian tea retailer T2 – are also making their Leeds debut at the site.
Gerald Jennings, the president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “There is a huge collective sense of positivity building within the city. Leeds has much to shout about.”
More than 300 workers are busy putting the finishing touches to what will be one of Leeds’s biggest ever retail developments.
Leeds City Council’s leader, Coun Judith Blake, said: “Right from the start we knew Victoria Gate was destined to be an incredible development that gave us a real opportunity to revitalise the Eastgate area.”
She added: “Victoria Gate is going to be an amazing addition to our marvellous mix of existing local independent and mainstream businesses.”
The striking development includes two arcades covered with a glass roof – similar to its sister scheme the Victoria Quarter. The finishing touches are being made to the construction side of the project, with just a few weeks before shop fitters move in.
Curved glass shop fronts are being put into place and the granite floor tiles – which are being shipped from China – are being laid.
Facade manager Louis Mansfield said: “The roof really has the wow factor for me.
“It has the appearance of bringing the outside inside. The LED lights will run all along the ceiling. It will look very impressive when it’s done. The tiles have already been laid in out in sequence in the factory then numbered and brought over here to relay them in exactly the same order. It’s just like a very big jigsaw puzzle.”
The official launch date is due to be revealed soon, with several days of events expected to be planned to celebrate the occasion.
James Prince, the head of branch at John Lewis Leeds, which will be opening in Victoria Gate, said: “It’s exciting to see the shop really starting to take shape now.
“The build-up and enthusiasm so far from the people of Leeds has been great to see and I just can’t wait for it to open. Victoria Gate is going to be a fantastic addition to the city, and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”
It is hoped the development will prove a major economic boost, helping the city climb up the retail rankings.