Major retailers secured for 106-acre retail and leisure development

Plans to build a 106-acre ‘next generation’ retail and leisure destination with more than 75 retail, restaurant and leisure units, along with a 10,000 capacity Community Stadium, have moved forward.

The proposed development of Axiom, which will also be home to Castleford Tigers RLFC, is on land adjacent to the J32 shopping centre and Xscape off the M62. The development, which had previously been known as the Five Towns development, is expected to cost £135m and was given planning permission in September 2015.

Now Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next and Boots have signed leases for flagship regional stores at the development.

The developers, Lateral Property Group, have now acquired the site and received loan funding from Leeds City Region’s Revolving Investment Fund. Over £39m of community investment funding has been secured.

All pre-commencement infrastructure works have been completed, including diversion of a major overhead power line which used to cross the site. The site is now ready for construction to begin later on this year.

The development has received planning permission and will support around 1,100 FTE construction jobs a year over the 2.5 year build period.  The retail development will create in excess of 2,000 FTE on-site jobs.

Philip Lunn, co-founder of Lateral Property Group, said: “The world of retail is changing as technology and people’s lifestyles are evolving. Since securing planning permission we have worked with leading architects and experts from the retail and leisure industry on advancing the Axiom concept, to ensure that it is relevant in the new ‘Omni-Experience’ retail and leisure world.

“We believe that the technology-led shopping and leisure proposition offered by Axiom, alongside Junction 32 Outlet and Xscape, will make this a highly attractive regional destination.”

The developers said that research showed consumers are increasingly demanding more from their shopping locations. Global real estate specialists CBRE, joint leasing agents on Axiom, endorse this view. CBRE believes the shopping centre of tomorrow won’t just be built around the retail transaction. Instead, they will be mixed-use retail and leisure destinations that deliver experience in the form of discovery, experimentation, education and entertainment.

They say customers will seek out sustainable, open-air, mixed-use developments that blend innovative retail concepts and lifestyle amenities and will include green spaces and outdoor venues.

Rhodri Davies, UK Head of Retail at CBRE,: “There is a clear evolution of the physical store into showrooms where customers will test, try and play in-store.”

Lunn added: “With Axiom our aim has always been to incorporate the latest digital technologies, catering offers and leisure attractions so that the shopping is enhanced by an enjoyable leisure experience.

“I think about my family sitting around the breakfast table on a Saturday morning planning a day out. No other destination in the region will be able to match Axiom’s breadth of retail, leisure, sports and cultural offering. It will be the family destination of choice.”
Helen Nash, M&S’s UK Head of Property said: “We are very excited to be bringing customers a store in Axiom as it represents the next-generation regional shopping centre.”

Philip Lunn continued: “We’re grateful for the tremendous support provided by Wakefield Council and the Leeds City Region LEP. As a result of securing a loan from the City Region’s Revolving Investment Fund we have been able to carry out major enabling works which mean we can now move towards a full construction start later this year.”

Jacqui Gedman, chair of the Leeds City Region Revolving Investment Fund and Chief Executive Kirklees Council said: “We identified the significance of this project and the positive difference it can make to communities in the Five Towns area and provided ‘RIF’ development finance to support pre-development infrastructure and enabling works. Our assistance will help speed up delivery of over 2,000 new jobs in Leeds City Region.”

Andy Wallhead, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Economic Growth, Wakefield MDC said: “Wakefield are proud to be working in partnership with the Axiom team to deliver this significant development including a new home for Castleford Tigers.”

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), added: “The five towns area that surrounds Axiom is rich in heritage, strong in local pride and has a bright future. This project would further extend a nationally significant facility and add to the vibrancy of the five towns area.”