£13m Merrion Centre refurbishment plan gets go ahead
The £13m refurbishment of a Leeds shopping centre, said to be the largest in Europe when it opened in 1964, has been given the go-ahead by the council.
Work on the Merrion Centre will start early next year after Leeds city councillors approved plans by centre owners Town Centre Securities (TCS).
The redevelopment proposals include new shops, restaurants and a revamped multi-storey car park.
The project is expected to be completed in March 2013.
Councillors considered the application at a meeting of the Leeds city centre plans panel.
Leeds-based TCS said it hoped the Merrion Centre refurbishment would be ready in time for the opening of the Leeds Arena, currently being built on a nearby site.
The shopping centre covers about 800,000 sq ft (75,000 sq m) of retail, office, leisure and car parking space on the northern fringe of the city centre.
When it opened in 1964, it contained 97 shops, a ballroom, cinema and petrol station.
Though it was originally open to the elements, the whole centre was later roofed over and only finished in 1975, since when it has been largely unchanged.
Speaking about the plans for the centre, Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of TCS, said: "Part of it is aged and needs reconfiguring.
"The core buildings are still the same as they were."
Mr Ziff added that the redevelopment would create "something much more attractive".