The first major construction milestone for the ￡150m Victoria Gate retail development is underway, as piling works for the 24,000m² John Lewis department store, one of the largest outside London, commenced at the official groundbreaking ceremony.
Margery Davey, from Adel, who won the Victoria Gate groundbreaker competition joined senior representatives from retail developer Hammerson, Leeds City Council and construction contractor Sir Robert McAlpine to officially mark the event by pushing the button on the piling rig to start work on the foundations.
The piling process is essential to the delivery of Victoria Gate, as it sets deep foundations to enable the arcade and John Lewis building to be
supported. To support the John Lewis building 410 piles will be required which will be filled with concrete and in mid July, piling for the arcade will commence with 503 piles.
The depth of the piling shafts for the foundations total 12,000m, the equivalent of 30 running tracks and over 5,000m³ of concrete will be poured into the piles – enough to fill two Olympic size swimming pools.
Margery was chosen to become a part of Leeds’ retail history for her tireless work in the local community, including running the Kidz in Kampz Community Charity shop in North West Leeds.
Kidz in Kampz provides essential funding to assist the education and welfare of children living in camps for displaced people along the Thai and Burmese borders.
Margery’s work has also inspired a community outreach project that works in partnership with Housing Leeds and the Sanctuary Housing Association.
The eagerly awaited Victoria Gate retail development, due to open in Autumn 2016, will feature a 21st century-inspired retail arcade, which builds on the city’s arcade history, featuring up to 30 stores, restaurants, cafes, a casino and multi-storey car park for up to 800 cars.
Hammerson’s chief investment officer Peter Cole said:
“The official groundbreaking ceremony is a significant moment for the Victoria Gate team and the city.
“It was a pleasure to involve such a valued member of the local community in starting to create the foundations of a scheme that will change the city’s retail potential.
“Not having a John Lewis has been a major gap in Leeds’ shopping offer and this is a major step towards the store opening in 2016.”
Jeremy Collins, property director John Lewis said:
“We are delighted to see another important milestone reached on the delivery of our new department store for Leeds.
“As we look towards opening in 2016 we are focused on working with the local community across a broad range of initiatives from the Business Improvement District to training and recruitment for the new jobs the shop will create.”
Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for Transport and the Economy, said:
“This is a very exciting first phase of what is an important ￡150m retail development in our city, bringing the eagerly awaited flagship John Lewis store to Leeds.
“Alongside transforming this part of the city, the first phase will also deliver thousands of much-welcomed jobs and training opportunities.
“Once completed, Victoria Gate will be a high quality shopping quarter that’s a fine addition to the superb retail experience we currently offer.
“It will also play a role in boosting neighbouring businesses and helping promote connections to surrounding facilities such as Quarry Hill.”
Hammerson is working with contractor Sir Robert McAlpine and key partner Leeds City Council to deliver the scheme.