Tim Flanagan and Dean Stratton from Land Securities the firm that owns and manages the White Rose Centre were present to explain their expansion plans. These comprise:
- extending the Debenhams and Primark stores
- building a 12 screen cinema at the back of the centre
- building four new family restaurants and
- adding a new staff car park on land to the south of the site (Sainsbury’s end)
Stratton explained that the centre already employs 3,500 people. The expansion will create a further 1,000 jobs and Land Securities will work with Employment Leeds to ensure as many as possible go to local people.
Members of the Forum asked about the poor bus service which currently stops at 6:00pm and may hamper local people taking the new jobs. The Centre is in discussions with First Bus and Arriva to improve the service, they also intend to upgrade the bus stand and provide real-time information to bus users.
Most people at the Forum welcomed the expansion plans, but Land Securities had a tougher time at the Council’s Planning Panel, earlier in the day. According to The City Talking, Councillors were critical of the plans and their effect on traffic locally. This was an interim presentation, a final application is due to be submitted in September.
The Forum went on to discuss the work to create a Beeston Neighbourhood Plan. The meeting agreed that the target area for the plan should be that of the forum – an area roughly bounded by Holbeck Cemetery, Cross Flatts Park, Middleton Grove, the Southleighs, the Parkwoods, the Ring Road and the M621. The final area of the Plan will be determined by the new Neighbourhood Forum that draws up the Plan.
A leaflet will go out to households, businesses and community groups in mid October. Once the plan is completed it will go a referendum of residents. If passed, the Neighbourhood Plan will have statutory status and shape future development in the area.
The next meeting of Beeston Community Forum will be on Thursday 5th September at 7:30pm at Beeston Village Community Centre. The guest speaker will be Hilary Benn MP.