A 35-storey tower would be the most striking element. Credit: via Space PR

TCS to add student living to Merrion Centre mix

Town Centre Securities has lodged proposals for a two-building project that would bring 1,100 student bedspaces to the central Leeds complex.

If approved, this would be the first time residential accommodation would be introduced to the 1m sq ft Merrion Centre, part of Leeds’ retail, office and leisure landscape for 50-plus years.

The student accommodation will comprise studios and cluster bedrooms, with amenities including residents’ lounges, co-working spaces, meeting spaces, cinema, gym, karaoke room, 191 secure cycle spaces and external terraces.

The project would involve the conversion of the 1960s office building Wade House, which has been mostly vacant since May 2021.

This sits adjacent to a new 35-storey tower, on the ‘100MC’ plot where a 17-storey office tower had previously been consented.

Like most major university cities, Leeds is looking to increase the volume of purpose-built student accommodation. Recent research commissioned by Cushman & Wakefield in support of the application said that more than 26,000 students in the city lack access to purpose-built bed spaces.

Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of TCS, said: “We have identified significant untapped potential within our Merrion estate, strategically positioning it for future growth.

“We are delighted to submit this crucial planning application which signifies the commencement of our upcoming strategy for the Merrion Centre. Our dedication to investing in and enhancing this mixed-use city centre destination is resolute, and we are excited to embark on this next phase of development.”

“The surrounding location and demographic has continued to evolve over previous decades, more recently with the first direct arena and numerous student and residential developments. These changes are set to continue with further developments coming forward including the proposed Convention Centre on Merrion Way.

“Our proposition and offer across the Merrion Centre has consistently evolved to address the changes in demand across the retail and leisure elements. This application has been carefully considered to strike a balance of reuse first with the re-invention of Wade House. The two buildings provide a rare opportunity to deliver a complimentary student offer which will benefit from the vast array of retail and leisure amenities that the wider estate offers”.

First opened in 1964, the Merrion Centre remains a key part of the city, with more than 8.2m internal visitors in 2022.

TCS has updated the estate over the years, with a five-year period prior to the Covid pandemic seeing £70m ploughed in, covering the redevelopment of Merrion House, an ibis Styles Hotel with adjoining restaurant and the refurbishment of the 1,100-space CitiPark car park, CitiPark also being part of the TCS group.

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