Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Recession halts 800m shop scheme

Leeds city centre
The project was intended to transform undeveloped parts of the city

A huge 800m shopping development for the Eastgate area of Leeds has been put on hold until the economy improves.

It would have provided 100 new shops, restaurants and a cinema but has now become a victim of the recession.

Construction on Eastgate Quarters was due to start this year with work being finished in 2012 but borrowing and retail trade fears have forced a delay.

Flagship stores Marks and Spencer and John Lewis say they are still committed to the plan, due to create 4,000 jobs.

Main developers Hammerson said the current economic climate meant it was difficult to get access to borrowing and many shops were cutting back on expansion plans.

'Remain committed'

There were also issues surrounding the compulsory purchase of existing properties in the area that still needed to be resolved, the company said.

The firm's project director, Andrew Hilston, said: "We remain committed to the delivery of Eastgate Quarters.

"However, like many other cities in the UK, Leeds is subject to the same challenging conditions that continue to affect all business sectors across the country."

Ian Williams, policy director at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are disappointed to hear the news that the scheme will be put on hold until there is an improvement in economic conditions.

"However, we understand that planning and design work associated with the scheme will continue and the two major anchor retail stores for the scheme are still supportive of the development, therefore the medium to long-term prospects for the scheme to be completed are looking strong".

Leeds City Councillor Andrew Carter, executive board member with responsibility for development, said: "Eastgate Quarters remains a vital part of the city's regeneration portfolio and we have worked extremely hard as a local authority to create the partnerships to facilitate its delivery.

"We will continue to work with the developers to move the scheme forward."

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Yorkshire Evening Post 800m Eastgate Quarter work postponed - 50 hrs ago
Yorkshire Post Property companies consider cash call on investors - 70 hrs ago

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