The Ridings Shopping Centre announces 'incredible' plans including demolishing part of the lower mall
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The Ridings, which was purchased by the Leeds-based property developer, Zahid Iqbal earlier this year, is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment.
Following years of uncertainty about the future of the Wakefield centre, the Yorkshire businessman shared his hopes of bringing business back to the once award-winning shopping centre, after buying it back in March.
Now, further plans have been announced to modernise The Ridings, whilst ensuring it remains as the heart of the city.
New stores will include a vast new toy shop, in the old bodycare unit, named Toyland, Dixons Ice Cream and Malcom Michaels Quality Butchers.
Under Mr Iqbal’s leadership, current tenants were also able to renew their lease – with numerous stores upgrading to bigger units.
This includes Transform Images and FRESH Smoothie Bar, with both businesses moving into a bigger space within the centre.
Clive Warner, owner of Transform Images said: “We’ve always wanted a bigger space and it’s brilliant that we have now upgraded to not only a bigger shop but a better location.
"The Ridings is on the up again and I do think business will soon be booming.”
Craig Higgins, Head of Marketing at The Ridings, shared the centre’s aims of becoming a regional hotspot and the hope of losing the ‘shopping centre’ title.
He said: "The one thing we can give people is space. Whether that be independent businesses, local groups, well-known names – we want to be at the heart of the city and provide a home to groups and businesses of all kinds.
"We don’t want to be confined as a shopping centre as The Ridings is so much more.
"We are very much community-led, with something for everyone and every age group.
"We're never going to be Trinity Walk. We've got our own niche, which is very community-based and well needed within Wakefield.”
Alongside the the new shops, the centre has also announced plans to demolish part of the lower mall, to make space for an outdoor area and extended car park.
The project is currently in development, with construction beginning to take place with the hope it will be completed next year.
As part of the project, the roof will be removed to make an open space for outdoor seating, activites and numerous restaurants running alongside.
Furthermore, the decoration within the centre is also being adapted with shop fronts being adapted to look “cleaner”, fairy lights being strung throughout and greenery being hung from walls.
Craig said: “We'll soon have an outdoor space like how it used to be 50 years ago.
"There will also be a large car park that will offer 45 minutes of free parking to people who just want to nip in.
"Overall, we want to make the place look nice and somewhere we’re proud of. We want to update it whilst maintaining the charm that is has always had.”
The Ridings will celebrate its 40th anniversary later this year, on October 17 – with current plans to host a joint birthday and relauch party on Saturday, October 21.
The landmark city centre retail mall originally opened its doors on October 17, 1983.
The centre was among the first of its kind in the UK, and was massively popular upon opening, with queues forming on the streets.
The following year, the centre went on to win the title of European Shopping Centre of the Year, a title it went on to win for the next decade.
Now, owner Mr Iqbal, wants to return the centre to its former glory.
Craig continued: “I think locals have always loved the center and they’ve always wanted to shop in the center – we just haven't had any shops for a while.
"We're going a lot more bespoke, less corporate shopping center, and more independently oriented.”
There are also plans to bring back elements of the Ridings centre from 40 years ago, to pay homage to its popularity.
A screen showcasing fish will be displayed in honour of the carp pond that once lived there, with early plans for a photo opportunity of the iconic glass lift – which which was an exact copy of those in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta.
Numerous events have also been announced at The Ridings, to promote its relaunch, including a book signing by Bake Off alumni, Karen Wright, an album launch by indie bank Skinny Living and a resident DJ playing live music every Saturday from the relaunch until Christmas.
The full list of shops opened, or set to open soon, since being bought include:
- Miss Siama
- Transform Images
- FRESH Smoothies
- POP Donut
- Love Nails
- Bigger American Nails
- Bella’s Childrenwear boutiques
- Card Shack
- Sherrie’s Avon & pre loved childrenwear and toys
- Why Not Hot dogs – September 29
- Niche Handbags & Luggage - To open September 25
- Impressions - designer Menswear, Ladies-wear and Kids-wear - September 29
- HFC Chicken - September 28
- Escapable escape rooms – Mid October
- Rhubarb n Custard sweet shop - October 6
- Tanned - October 2
- Toyland - Mid October
- The Little Hummingbird Collective - November 1
- Dixons Ice Cream - Mid October
- I Phone Tech- End of September
- Malcom Michaels Quality Butchers - End of October
To find out more about The Ridings upcoming events, visit: https://www.ridingscentre.com/