IT’S finally opening...
After lying empty for more than a decade, the agents of the former Lodges supermarket site in Holmfirth have promised the doors will be thrown open by the end of the month.
And Janet Street-Porter – the TV personality who wanted the controversial building demolished – could cut the tape at the official relaunch ceremony.
A full page in a valley advertising freesheet says the shopping centre is due to open “this October” and Richard Ward from Forward Property Management confirmed it was on the brink of completion.
Mr Ward said six of the 10 shops had definitely be leased, including a cafe, a traditional sweets shop, a jewellery and gifts store, a chemist, a greetings cards shop and a delicatessen.
A bridlewear and a national health food retailer are currently in negotations about taking a unit each, leaving two mid-sized units still available.
But Mr Ward could not give a definite launch date as he said some of the finishing touches could affect how soon it could open.
He said: “We hope that the end is in site, we’re aware there’s been a lot of negative news surrounding this centre but if it’s not open by the end of October I’ll run around Holmfirth naked.
“We’re hoping to have a launch party and we’re in negotiations with Janet Street-Porter, the lady that wanted to demolish it a few years ago.”
Holme Valley stalwart Clr Donald Firth was overjoyed at the news and offered to be the man to cut the ribbon if needed.
He said: “We’ve had so many promises, I never thought it would actually happen. It can’t come soon enough, it will be one less empty shop in Holmfirth.”
Caroline Anstey from the Holme Valley Business Assocation also welcomed the news. She said: “There’s certainly been people in there working for the past few months.
“Anything is better than having empty premises and it will be good for people down in Norridge Bottom.We will all be delighted when it finally opens.”
The 11-year saga of the site, now known as the Riverside Shopping Centre, has seen numerous false starts and broken promises and many local traders and residents have branded the empty property an embarrassment and an eyesore.
Demolition programme revealed worst eyesores
In 2005, 5,000 valley people signed a petition demanding the building be immediately torn down, it would later feature on the Channel 4 programme Demolition, a documentary presented by Janet Street-Porter revealing the nation’s worst eyesores.
Last year Forward told the Express & Chronicle that the cafe and two other units had been let and they were confident it would launch but it was yet another false dawn.
Since then attempts to get planning permission for a pirate ship playgym have failed and a Kirklees planning officer said it was unlikely anything that required high levels of parking would ever be approved.
CONTACT: Any retailers interested in the remaining two mid-sized units should call Forward Property Management on 01484-421829.