The chair of a forum representing Pudsey businesses has written to a raft of restaurant chains asking them to take over the former Natwest Bank building, which is currently empty.
At its recent meeting Pudsey Business Network Forum discussed writing to several popular restaurant chains to see if they would be interested in taking on the building at the corner of Lidget Hill.
Councillor Trish Smith (Cons, Pudsey) chairs the business forum and says businesses approached include: Pizza Express, Bill’s, Prezzo Trading Limited, Cafe Rouge, The Mulberry, Amalfi Ristorante, Las Iguanas, Ask Italian, Zizzi and Coco Di Mama.
The move follows coffee chain Starbucks progressing plans to move into the former HSBC Bank building over the road, as revealed by West Leeds Dispatch earlier this year.
The HSBC building, on Church Lane, was on the market for £475,000, whereas the NatWest building is available to rent for £30,000 a year – more affordable for independents and smaller national chains.
Cllr Smith said the aim was to bring the right mix of businesses into Pudsey town centre. She said:
“Pudsey is short of a variety of things. The town centre tends to be orientated towards the pub. The location is ideal for a restaurant serving smaller plates or tapas.
“It would change the vibe and give a different ambience to Pudsey. We need to attract footfall and a popular restaurant would do this.”
Cllr Smith said she would prefer independent businesses to set up in Pudsey, which is what has been happening in nearby Farsley.
She added: “Because this building is available for lease, this would appeal to people who don’t have pockets as deep as Starbucks, and it would definitely be suitable for an independent. I’m not against big multinationals coming in, there is room for everybody, but we wanted to steer it to what we would like to see there. We’ll see what response we get.”
Pudsey people have been commenting on the idea on social media. One said: “Good idea…..but….lest we not forget we already have a super Italian in Gigi’s, potentially something different, steak joint perhaps…”
And another added: “At first I was totally against this…multi nationals taking business away from local businesses. Then I remembered the uproar when Wetherspoons opened. Not taken anything away from local businesses as far as I’m aware? Maybe Pudsey needs to embrace change as empty premises make the town look unloved…”
NatWest closed the Pudsey branch earlier this year due to falling demand, as first reported by WLD in December.
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