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Monday, June 27, 2022

Grand opening of multi-million-pound Batley Plaza set for this weekend

A new shopping centre which focuses heavily on food and leisure activities will open its doors to the public this weekend.

A new shopping centre in Batley will officially open its doors to the public at a launch event this weekend.

The Batley Plaza opened with a soft launch earlier this month but will be unveiled to the public this weekend in a grand event, with 20 new retail units opening in the main part of the centre.

Fourteen food outlets will also open at the food court, including a curry counter, a Mexican eatery, a Chinese food outlet, a bubble tea shop, and a burger joint – all halal.

Retail property entrepreneur, Zahid Iqbal, based in Leeds, director of Z&F Properties, purchased the 40-year-old building previously known as Alfreds’ Way and Batley Shopping Centre in 2019 to transform it into a food and leisure-focused retail experience.

The plaza took three years to complete.

The multi-million-pound project was expected to take around a year-and-a-half to complete but experienced delays due to the pandemic.

Opened in the early 1980s, the original shopping centre proved unpopular with shoppers because of its steep and sloping floor which made it inaccessible to some. The floors of the old shopping centre were said to have been dangerous when went, putting off local customers.

Before the investment by Z&F Properties, the shopping centre stood deserted for five years, with the last remaining tenant vacating the building in 2014.

Mr Iqbal said: “We envisaged the project taking eighteen months but due to Covid-19, it took around three years to complete. We purchased the original shopping centre and added 34 shops, with 60% of the shops being food and leisure and around 40% being normal retail.

“Most of the retail traders are local, with retailers offering clothes, perfume, beauty services. It was built to serve the needs of the local population in Batley, Dewsbury, and Wakefield.”

The property developer had great success with opening shopping centres and arcades including the Bradford Plaza on Old Leeds Road in Thornbury in BD3 in the past, inspiring him to capitalise on what Batley does best – food – and opening a shopping arcade with food and leisure at the heart of the experience.

He said: “Bradford Plaza is a niche shopping experience, for people from the South Asian community. Bradford is a hub, which covers from Glasgow down to Hull, covering the Pennines as far as Manchester.

“People traditionally come to Bradford to buy jewellery and clothing, so the Bradford Plaza was built purely to serve this need and is very successful.

“In Kirklees, we realised that there is a very large South Asian community that goes to Bradford to shop. We understood that if we could provide something local on a smaller scale, we felt that it would do well.

Twenty retail shops are set to open and fourteen food outlets have been let out.

“Batley has become a go-to destination for food, and we found that people travel from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, and Huddersfield to Batley for food which is why we have developed this arcade.”

Speaking about opening the Plaza during the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit, and the pandemic, Mr Iqbal said: “In this current climate, we are extremely fortunate to open a scheme like this. People who are in the retail industry are struggling to find tenants. In Batley, there is not a single unit to rent because when we opened ours, it had a knock-on effect on retailers around us.”

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, attended the soft launch of Batley Plaza earlier in the month. He said: “It was a privilege to cut the ribbon to open the New Batley Plaza – The quality of the work is outstanding, and this will definitely open up more opportunities for everyone in Batley and our region of Yorkshire.

“Zahid from Z&F Properties has developed a very high-quality retail centre in the heart of Batley that will attract local Entrepreneurs and provide something for everyone.

“It has been challenging but Kirklees Council worked in partnership to develop and deliver this truly inspirational development.

“Batley Plaza is more than just good quality shops. It’s about bringing a whole new concept to meet future challenges in small towns. It’s a whole new experience that caters for everyone, all backgrounds, all ages where people can meet, socialise, and have some fun with friends and family.”

The plaza will officially open its doors to the public at a launch event on Saturday, 30 April, at 10am.

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