The Ridings Centre in Wakefield announced today (19 April 2017) further details of its £5m facelift, which should create around 30 jobs, starting in Spring this year and reaching completion around the same time in 2018.
The work, which is being paid for by the centre’s landlord NewRiver REIT, will focus on a number of areas in the 34-year old shopping centre with an intention to ‘restore the pride’ in The Ridings.
Already a number of initial ‘works’ have been completed with a new events space in the middle mall, and the relocation of Grind/Melt Café to a brand-new venue at the Almshouse Lane entrance.
Included within the £5m refurbishment programme will be:-
· Fully renovated toilets and parent and child facilities promising to be some of the very best in the area.
· A ‘pop up’ shop that will showcase the plans to the public allowing them to input and feed back ideas. This space will also provide independent local businesses with a flexible trading space, as well as students for activities such as entrepreneurial challenges.
· A new customer service lounge will provide additional shopper services like mobile device charging and Click and Collect services.
· The introduction of ‘The Ridings Kitchen,’ a new food and drink zone at the Cathedral entrance with local caterers providing the food offer. This will have a large communal seating area with space for 200 covers plus space for 3-5 hot food outlets and a dessert bar.
· The creation of a high quality indoor market and food hall on the lower mall, selling locally sourced produce, known as All Saints Market.
· This will also be complemented by a new look and feel throughout – The Ridings ‘at the heart of Wakefield’ brand has also been launched, firmly outlining the centre’s ambitions of being a focal point for the city of Wakefield.
· New signage throughout, as well as car park improvements.
At the same time The Ridings also announced that Lee Appleton has joined as Regional Centre Director. Lee has spent over 5 years in shopping centre management plus over 17 in management roles at Debenhams and boasts several industry awards to his name.
“The Ridings has literally been at the heart of Wakefield for 34 years and so we are delighted to announce that with this £5m refurbishment, it will remain that way,” says Centre Director Lee Appleton.
“We’ve already listened to customers prior to the works starting and have reflected their asks in the programme. I hope that customers old and new will be as excited as we are to see the changes from the shiny new facilities to the great food and beverage offer, with a focus and warmth and personality. I would also like to thank all our customers over the last 34 years and look forward to seeing them enjoy our changes over the coming year,” he adds.
NewRiver Director Paul Wright says, “Since purchasing The Ridings in 2016, we’ve worked on a number of strategic development areas aimed at delivering improvements to The Ridings and adding something unique to Wakefield City Centre. Following the success of the Wakefield BID vote in February 2017, we’re delighted to be investing in the city and looking forward to delivering value for city centre businesses and the local community.”
Staying true to its tyke roots, all works will be carried out with a Yorkshire twist, giving the centre a personality that simply won’t be found elsewhere. As a result, signage throughout the centre will utilise Yorkshire dialect with messages such as a friendly ‘Ey Up’.
At the same time the centre is creating a Customer Board and is appealing for a range of people of different ages and backgrounds to come forward who have an interest in The Ridings, so they can also have an input both in the refurbishment but also the on-going future of the centre.
When The Ridings originally opened its doors in 1983, the shopping centre boasted the very first food court in the UK, changing the face of British retail. Designed by Peter Spawforth, who at the time was Wakefield’s chief planning officer. After opening its doors it was named European Shopping Centre of the Year in 1984. In its 34 years, 408m customers have walked through its doors, making it one of Yorkshire’s most popular places to shop.