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Rise up and follow the leader is centre developer’s battlecry
The company behind the 5Rise development in Bingley has dropped a strong hint that it is now looking to take on more retail developments across Yorkshire.
Developer 4Urban, which acquired its first scheme in Bingley during 2007, says it is now actively engaging with Bradford Council and other local authorities with a view to “unlocking the potential of retail-led regeneration projects.”
4Urban has transformed Bingley’s former Myrtle Walk shopping centre, which had become an eyesore, into a new destination that has helped to improve the heart of the market town.
Offering 60,000sq ft of new and refurbished retail space across 18 shop units, 5Rise has won praise from community leaders and residents.
The development was completed in December 2009 with more than 65 per cent of the retail space already let to anchor tenants Co-operative Food and Home Bargains, along with others such as Santander, Greggs, Timpson, Betfred, Boots, Klick and NatWest.
Although the scheme is not on the same scale as many of the large retail developments that have been mothballed in recent years, it has been delivered in the face of challenging economic conditions.
Paul Lancaster, managing director of 4Urban, said: “It has been more difficult to deliver this scheme in the recession but because we have not had our hands tied by banks, we have been able to succeed in quite challenging times.
“We wanted to regenerate a very important nucleus for the town with a practical retail offer that is sustainable and we have achieved this.
“We think that we have delivered a quality product and the feedback from residents and local politicians continues to be extremely positive. We spent £5m developing it and now it has an end value of £15m. Residents are delighted that at long last they have a local retail centre that they can all be proud of.”
As a local resident, development director Richard Holmes brought considerable understanding about enterprise in the town to the project team.
He said: “The retail facilities in Bingley had been inadequate for a number of years due to neglect, under-investment and failed promises.
“The ability to bring our depth of local knowledge to a scheme is rare and gave us a real advantage in knowing what was required to bring about regeneration within a short timescale.
“We took an agile approach to allow problem-solving at an early stage so as not to blight regeneration. After we obtained the initial planning consent, it included 86 residential units on the upper floors but we had to work closely with Bradford Council to deliver a phased programme.
“This allowed for the much-needed retail elements of the development, which was always the primary driver for this project going ahead with only minimal delay to the overall development programme.”
4Urban has bought the freehold of the shopping centre, demonstrating its commitment to the scheme.
A spokesman for 4Urban said: “Having created a formula that works, 4Urban is using 5Rise as a blueprint to help with its next venture as well as other stalled schemes within the region.
“It is actively engaging with Bradford Council and looking at a number of projects with other local authorities throughout Yorkshire, East and North Midlands and the North East, with a view to unlocking the potential at retail-led regeneration projects. Bradford is high on its list of priorities, so watch this space!”
Of 4Urban, Councillor John Pennington (Con, Bingley) said: “They are a smaller company and therefore they can produce a more personalised package for their tenants.
“I also think they look outside the box, which is what all businesses should do. However, I think it’s fortunate that they started the development when they did because they got in just before the crunch hit.
“It’s a successful scheme and I think it’s only the apartment element that hasn’t been delivered, which is no surprise in the current market.”
Coun Pennington said 4Urban had been “very sensible” in the way it had gone about the development.
“They didn’t knock it all down and, instead, they refurbished about half of it, which was very wise,” said Coun Pennington.
He added that the new shopping centre, together with the markets, had helped to revitalise Bingley.