'Concern' for Trinity Walk Shopping Centre in Wakefield following closures of Debenhams and Topshop

Concerns have been raised about the viability of Wakefield's Trinity Walk shopping centre, following the collapse of big name retailers.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 10:09 am
The shopping centre has had to adjust to post-pandemic life.

Debenhams and Topshop, both of which have been bought out by online brands recently, were among the centre's most popular outlets.

Their closures leave large vacant units at Trinity Walk, though the centre's boss said in February there had already been "strong interest" from other businesses in occupying the spaces.

The future of the centre was discussed at Wakefield Council's audit committee on Monday, as part of a wider conversation about the impact of Covid on the local economy.

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Debenhams was one of the centre's biggest retailers, in terms of the size of the unit it occupied.

Committee chair Councillor Hilary Mitchell, said she had "a lot of concerns" about the closures, "in terms of keeping Trinity Walk viable".

In response, the council's skills and business service manager Mike Denby said: "It's a justifiable concern that it will create a number of (empty) units.

"We're meeting with Savills, who run Trinity Walk to find out what their strategy is to address that.

"There may be ways of carving up the units to attract more small and medium enterprises to fill those big spaces."

Last month, Trinity Walk manager Cormac Hamilton was upbeat about the shopping centre's future, saying it would "continue to move forward" despite the closures and that Wakefield was "resilient".

Data from the Centre for Cities think tank, which measures footfall and high street spending across 64 UK towns and cities, suggests Wakefield is performing better than many others despite lockdown.

Mr Denby said the council was offering "as much support to Trinity Walk as we can".

He added: "Savills run a number of other shopping centres and they may have a black book of growing businesses that they could look to do deals with to fill those units.

"Further details will come out over time but we're doing all we can to look at alternative ways to fill those units."

Last month, the council leader Denise Jeffery said ideas to repurpose the Debenham's building had already been discussed at a high level.

However, she said she was unable to give further details on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.

Local Democracy Reporting Service