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First food and drink tenants signed at York shopping park

Felicity Francis reports for Property Week:

New leisure lettings have been agreed at the controversial £90m Vangarde Shopping Park at Monks Cross, on the outskirts of York.

Costa Coffee will take a 1,600 sq ft unit at the 340,000 sq ft shopping park, and New York Italian chain Frankie & Benny’s has signed for a 4,000 sq ft restaurant. Both units were taken on 15-year leases, rents were not disclosed.

Food chains Prezzo, Giraffe, Nando’s and Ed’s Diner are also known to be interested in the scheme, but are yet to sign deals. CBRE is advising owner Oakgate Group on the lettings.

The 30 acre site on York’s north-east fringe has drawn the ire of local retailers, who fear it will draw consumers out of the city’s historic centre and divert as much as £50m trade away by 2016.

Planning permission for the scheme was granted in May 2012, but was called in by Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles, who gave his consent a month later.

After being put on hold while a colony of great crested newts that had been discovered on the site was relocated, work has been full steam ahead throughout 2013. Steel frames have been erected on the main development site, which will become home to a 60,000 sq ft Next, the region’s largest Marks & Spencer, at 130,000 sq ft, and John Lewis’s first out-of-town flagship store in the north, also at 130,000 sq ft.

The park, which was forward-sold to M&S and Associated British Foods’ pension fund in May, will unlock funding for a 6,000-seat stadium for York City FC and York City Knights rugby league team.

Richard France, managing director of the Oakgate Group, says: “It’s great to see Vangarde taking shape.

“We have received a great deal of interest in the site, and we are in the final stages of completing a number of other lettings to announce in the next few weeks.”

The shopping park is due to open next Easter.