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Acme wins contest for first phase of Leeds mega-project

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Acme has scooped the design competition for the £120 million first phase of the huge Eastgate Quarters retail-led scheme in the centre of Leeds

The London-based practice has already worked on the wider masterplan for the £590 million Hammerson-backed project and in July 2011 won planning for a revised outline scheme - replacing a larger proposal drawn up by Farrells in 2006 (see below).

As well as a new John Lewis anchor store, restaurants and 30 shops, the first phase will include a new pedestrian route from the existing Victoria Quarter arcade and a 600-space multi-storey car park.

Hammerson project director for Eastgate Quarters, Joe Swindells, said: ‘While the great architecture of Victoria Quarter will be hard to recreate, we want the first phase of Eastgate Quarters to complement its heritage but with a modern twist. It will be a big challenge to achieve this but we’re more than confident that the team at Acme can create a new landmark within the city.”

The masterplan introduces a direct pedestrian route from the Victoria Quarter to the new retail stores in the first phase, which will comprise up to 30 retail units for high end and aspirational brands, restaurants, additional leisure space and a 600 space multi-story car park.

Acme’s founding director Friedrich Ludewig, said: “The Victoria Quarter is one of the great places of retail architecture in the UK and an outstanding neighbour to have alongside the first phase.  We look forward to sharing initial proposals for the next generation of Leeds’ retail architecture with residents and retailers in the coming months.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This announcement marks a major milestone in what will be actual proposals for building work to begin on Eastgate.

‘Now it will be up to the plans panel to look more closely at these images and detailed plans. This will be a flagship arcade in an ambitious development that will bring many jobs and lead the regeneration of this sector of the city centre.”

The proposed designs will be put on public display later this spring. A detailed planning application will be submitted later this spring and, subject to achieving planning approval, construction work could start in spring 2014.


Previous story (AJ 14.07.11)

Acme-designed Leeds mega-project wins planning

Leeds City Council has backed Hammerson’s reworked proposals for its huge £600million Eastgate Quarters in the centre of the West Yorkshire city

Designed by Acme and Benoy, the outline plans for the 92,900m² retail-led scheme will include flagship stores for John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, 130 retail and restaurants units, a new civic square, 2,500 space car park and the pedestrianisation of all the streets within the developoment area.

A low-carbon energy centre for the scheme by Acme has also been approved (AJ 14.04.11) consented which will provide heating, cooling and electricity required by the development, with the opportunity to also support neighbouring homes and businesses.

The initial masterplan had been designed to outline stage by Farrells in 2006, and subsequently worked up to detailed stage by a raft of big names including Thomas Heatherwick. Due to the economic downturn the developer decided to look again at the proposals, drop the large housing element.

Andrew Hilston, project director for Eastgate Quarters said: ‘Hammerson has been working hard over the past few years to develop the best possible scheme to put Leeds firmly on the retail map.  The scheme will create thousands of jobs, boosting the local economy, and will strengthen Leeds’ status as a leading European city destination.’

Previous story (AJ 01.10.10)

Hammerson unveils revised plans for Leeds mega-project

Developer Hammerson has revealed a reworked masterplan for its massive £650million Eastgate Quarters in Leeds

Originally designed to outline stage by Farrells in 2006, the latest masterplan for the huge retail-led city centre development has been drawn up by Acme and Benoy Architects.

The housing element of the previous £800 million scheme - which was worked up to detailed stage by a raft of big names including Thomas Heatherwick - has been dropped and a flagship John Lewis store relocated further south.

Billed as the ‘one of the largest city centre regeneration projects in the country’, the proposals also feature around 130 new shops and restaurants, a Marks and Spencer anchor store, a horseshoe-shaped, two-level arcade and a major new public square at the bottom of Eastgate.

The site has been mainly derelict and used as car parking for around 30 years, but also includes a terrace designed by Reginald Blomfield, who also remodelled London’s Regent Street.

Part of this will be taken down to improve connections through the site and to create the new square.

Hammerson’s project director Andrew Hilston said: ‘We are trying to regenerate the whole north Eastern sector of the city centre.

‘One of the main changes [between the new proposals and original masterplan] is that we are no longer bringing forward any residential elements as part of the project. It’s not just that there is a lot of stock already built but there are also lots of planning permissions for future housing developments [also in the pipeline].’

Acme, formed in 2007 by two former designers at Foreign Office Architects, is also designing a combined heat and power plant which will supply energy to the scheme and surrounding buildings.

Outline plans are expected to submitted by the end of the year.

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