At first glance, the large, vacant buildings at Eastgate, Leeds are somewhat of an eyesore. The grand plans for the area though, optimise everything Leeds has become, and are a sign that the city is still evolving.
Eastgate Quarters will be a shopping complex to rival the Meadowhall and the Trafford Centre, however its start date is still to be confirmed. John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are just two of the retail giants who will be located there in years to come.
However, locals will be aware that the now unused premises was once Leeds's "Chinatown", or at least the closest thing the city had to a Chinese trading centre. Less than five years ago, Leeds City Council were gifted with a Chinese gate courtesy of one of our sister cities, Hangzhou. This promised to be the entrance to the ever developing and expanding Chinese presence in town.
Whatever happened to the Chinese gate then? And does Chinatown cease to exist?
The second of these two questions can most definitely be answered. A large group of Chinese retailers can now be found nearby on Vicar Lane, which could, in theory be labelled as the "new Chinatown". In response to some concerns regarding the issue, the council have been quick to highlight that the Chinese community in Leeds have chosen to locate their stores in a variety of locations, meaning that Leeds does not have or need the kind of Chinatown set up as seen in London, Liverpool or Manchester.
To conclude this article on a positive note, the plans for Eastgate seem to be running smoothly, and, importantly, the Chinese community in Leeds appear to be perfectly happy with the current arrangements in place. Whether or not more oriental businesses will chose to locate around Vicar Lane is yet to be seen.