Meadowhall unveils new Leisure Park plan

Meadowhall has unveiled new designs for a smaller Leisure Hall and outdoor adventures at a new Leisure Park nearby.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 10:42 am

Co-owner British Land says the revised extension will be smaller with no cinema and ‘far less high-street retail’ than previous proposals.

And because it will take several years to fully deliver the company wants to convert the current M1 distribution site off Vulcan Road into a leisure park with activities in warehouses - like nearby trampoline centre Jump - as well as an outdoor adventure area.

The wide-ranging project also includes new ‘big box’ shops selling outdoor equipment, sports and homeware near the Next Home store to the south of the shopping centre.

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Artist's impression of the revised Leisure Hall.

And the existing Vue cinema will be expanded and modernised.

The original £300m Leisure Hall was shelved last year due to uncertainty from Brexit and in the economy. Last month, British Land announced it had slumped to a £1.1bn loss due to the pandemic. But it had £1.2 billion of available cash and no requirement to refinance until 2024.

Paul Case, development director at British Land, said they were taking a phased approach so the scheme could be changed if necessary.

He added: “Rather than deliver all our plans in one single step, as was proposed for our 2018 Leisure Hall, our new proposal would see delivery of different elements brought forward in a phased approach.

“This enables maximum flexibility in how we deliver the project, allowing us to refine, adapt and respond to public needs and market trends. This added flexibility also means that some elements – such as the interim Leisure Park and an upgraded cinema experience – can be delivered much sooner.”

British Land intends to submit a new outline planning application this summer, he added. A public consultation has launched and closes on July 17.

Mr Case added: “The primary vision remains the same. A Leisure Hall is still central to our plans and will enable us to transform our leisure offer at Meadowhall. We want to provide areas where family and friends can do fun activities together, simply relax, or enjoy a meal alongside their shopping.”

Last month British Land chief executive, Chris Grigg, said they had faced ‘unprecedented challenges’ from Covid-19.

The shift to online retail would accelerate, he predicted, and a drive for a ‘more focused’ retail business would continue. The firm sold £296m of retail assets in the last year.

“In Retail, given current valuations and the lack of liquidity in the investment market, our focus is on delivering value though asset management, working to keep our places full and exploiting demand for assets which support an online offer.

“Our financial position is robust with debt low, significant covenant headroom and access to £1.3bn of undrawn facilities and cash so we are well placed to weather today’s challenges and succeed in the long term.”

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