Today brings the end of a barren spell in the UK retail market that has not been experienced for some time. All eyes are on Yorkshire as Land Securities delivers its mammoth 1,000,000 sq ft Trinity Leeds - some 555 days after Boris Johnson cut the ribbon at Westfield Stratford.
Such a drought in the development pipeline would have surely been unthinkable back in the halcyon days of 2008 - a year which saw Westfield London and Grosvenor's Liverpool One amongst twelve new malls to open in the UK.
The drop down to 'zero' in 2012 can be attributed to an overwhelming litany of factors - economic difficulties for both retailers and developers, a lack of adequate funding, anchor-store pull-outs, 're-evaluation' of planning proposals, refusal of planning proposals, decreasing consumer confidence and the mall-crushing behemoth of on-line retail are only a handful. Essentially, the story is that the fall in new retail development over the past five years is one of the starkest representations of what the global economic crisis has done to this country.
Nonetheless, today should be a celebration of UK retail and its ever-increasing adaptability to difficult circumstances. There have been a lot of noises coming from Land Securities about Trinity Leeds being seen as an 'experience' destination - rather than simply a place to shop. This could ultimately determine the level of the mall's success, as developers increasingly look towards leisure and catering services to help boost footfall and tempt customers away from the convenience of shopping on the internet.
The opening comes at a time when UK retail desperately needs a shot in the arm. Yesterday's budget left the calls to re-think the business rate revaluation delay unanswered, and retailers facing a £175 million additional rates bill in April. This comes off the back of a dismal January which saw three major retail chains falling into administration, causing 10,000 jobs to be put at immediate risk as around 1,000 stores faced the axe.
All that can be put to one side today, as Land Securities can enjoy the fruit of a very long, and at times arduous, labour. Having downed-tools in 2009, you would have got extremely long odds on them opening a 90%-let scheme in March 2013, complete with the first Everyman cinema in the north of the country, in addition to a string of highly-sought-after retailers and catering outlets. It's a huge credit to them, and to Leeds as a whole, that they have done so.