Leeds & West Yorkshire

Thousands at Trinity Leeds shopping centre opening

Trinity Leeds opening
Image caption British fashion designer Henry Holland co-ordinated the opening ceremony

After many years in the making and challenges posed by the financial climate, Trinity Leeds shopping centre has finally opened its eight entrances to the public.

So far it is the only major mall to open in western Europe in 2013 and it was a big occasion for the city centre.

Small crowds quickly turned into queuing hundreds as the opening hour approached at the site nestled between Briggate, Albion Street and Boar Lane.

Trinity Leeds, named after the nearby 18th Century Holy Trinity Church, has been a much-anticipated promise for years.

Work started on the £350m project in 2008 but was halted in 2009 because of the recession, delaying its opening scheduled for 2012.

It survived the threat of falling victim to the financial crisis, and developers Land Securities pledged their commitment to continuing.

The centre, the size of 13 football pitches, is a mix of old and new.

About a third of it is the pre-existing and redeveloped Leeds Shopping Plaza, formerly the Bond Street Centre.

The rest of the 1,000,000 sq ft site is is made up of the space occupied by the old Burton Arcade and Trinity Arcade, shopping areas built in the 1970s but later demolished.

Spread over three floors and crowned by a sweeping glass dome roof, it is home to 120 shops with the uppermost of the third floor dedicated to restaurants.

Loud music pumped through the centre as thousands of people made their way in for the first time.

Image caption Hundreds of shoppers, including Pat Mitcham, travelled from all over

Sam Goole travelled from Cardiff for the opening.

He said: "This is the largest retail development in Europe this year and this is a fantastic addition to Leeds.

"I think the beauty of the building is terrific."

Pat Mitcham came from Bingley to see the centre for the first time.

"I think it's fantastic for Leeds but it will totally kill some other places, especially Bradford."

Forty-six of the shops in Trinity Leeds are brand new to the city, with some taking their biggest stores outside London.

Helen McGinlay, from Huddersfield, said: "It looks good from what I've seen so far.

"There's no shops like this in Huddersfield so it will definitely make me come to Leeds more often."

'Characterless'

However, some shoppers had their doubts.

Leeds blogger Lola Wilson described the centre as "a bit characterless".

She said: "Because there are no independent retailers, there's no sense of the pop-up stores that you have in other [Leeds] centres like the Merrion Centre.

"I'm just a little concerned it's all about the big names."

Clancy Walker said she would not use the centre for regular shopping but more for the leisure element.

She said: "I like wearing things that I've found in the charity shops and online, I'm not particularly a High Street person.

"There's an amazing buzz but I can't see me coming here to shop regularly."

Image caption Work re-started on the centre in 2010 after it was halted because of the recession

The centre's launch was orchestrated by British fashion designer Henry Holland whose brief was to deliver a "spectacular show that will excite Leeds' shoppers and propel Trinity Leeds into the fashion spotlight".

The centrepiece of the show was a 15m (49ft) long dress worn by former Cirque Du Soleil principal artist Colette Morrow, which emerged from the bottom floor of the mall.

He said: "Leeds has always been a great shopping city.

"I used to travel here from Manchester just to shop because you guys had Harvey Nichols before we did and also the Corn Exchange and all the arcades."

He added: "It's a really exciting event for the city and it's definitely going to inject a lot more.

"It's creating something that's a point of interest and it's going to get people out of their homes and come to have a look at what's going on and I'm sure that will translate into some sales."

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