Owner of new Batley Plaza shopping arcade reveals planned opening date
The new Batley Plaza, which is set to change the face of Batley town centre, is fully let – but won’t open before January, it has been revealed.
The man behind the arcade, retail entrepreneur Zahid Iqbal, says the finishing touches are still being made and the final sign off is required by Kirklees Council’s building control.
Mr Iqbal, who runs Z&F Properties, bought the old shopping centre off Commercial Street, previously known as Alfreds’ Way and Batley Shopping Centre, back in November 2019.
The 40-year-old centre, infamous for its steeply sloping floor when it first opened, has now been transformed.
The food court outlets have already opened and have boosted the night-time economy.
But the retail part of the arcade, which has 24 units, won’t be ready to welcome shoppers until the new year.
“Batley is becoming a hotspot and we have lifted the whole town centre,” said Mr Iqbal.
“What we have built here isn’t a shopping centre, it’s an arcade. We provide an experience.”
Mr Iqbal is also the driving force behind the Bradford Plaza in Thornbury, Bradford, an Asian shopping centre which draws visitors from as far as Scotland and the Midlands.
During the summer he bought the Packhorse Centre in Huddersfield and that is currently undergoing extensive renovations.
Batley Plaza’s retail tenants are almost exclusively people local to Batley and Dewsbury and many are start-up businesses. Trades include clothing, make-up, a sweet shop, bubble tea and perfumes.
“The retail units are fully let and there will be no phone shop, no vape shop and no nail bar,” said Mr Iqbal, conscious of people’s cynicisms about the lack of variety in modern-day high streets.
The arcade will also feature a rooftop restaurant which will seat up to 250 people, promising a fine dining experience in Batley town centre.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic delayed Mr Iqbal’s work on the building but now there is only the fire safety systems to complete to building control’s satisfaction.
In all, £100,000 has been invested in the fire alarm, sprinklers, smoke extraction and a public address and voice alarm (PAVA) system, which allows the safe evacuation of a building in the event of a fire.
Mr Iqbal never likes to put a figure on how much he has invested and calls it “sensationalism”.
Instead, he added: “It’s a big investment – more than I thought – but the important thing is to deliver.”