The Springs

Thorpe Park, Leeds, UK

Thorpe Park, Leeds, is an established business park, with a current working population of 4,500. 

Aiming to create one of the largest and most diverse out of town business locations in the UK, the park’s developers are adding a further 1, 354, 918ft² to the existing estate. The ambitious scheme incorporates a shopping and leisure park, business centre, 300 new homes and 140 acres of parkland. This enormous project brings substantial benefits to the local community, providing new houses, offices and leisure facilities, improved transport links and 13,000 jobs.

the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
The Springs – Leeds’ exciting new shopping Mecca. Image: Giles Rocholl Photography

Buro Happold was commissioned to provide holistic civil and structural engineering and specialist acoustic and fire strategies for The Springs, Thorpe Park’s new retail centre. We are a trusted advisor to the client, Scarborough Development Group, with a proven track record in delivering best value solutions. As we were also providing mechanical and electrical design services, the overall engineering was co-ordinated by working closely with collaborators, GMI Construction.

The Springs opened in October 2018 and includes renowned high street brands such as M&S Foodhall, H&M, Next, TK Maxx, Outfit, and Boots as well as a Nando’s, Gino D’Acampo’s My Restaurant and a Pure Gym. In addition, a 44,000ft2 10-screen Odeon cinema is due to open in Spring 2019.


The nature of retail development is that the individual units need to remain as flexible as possible to accommodate a variable mix of potential tenants. Tenants tend to engage and advise their specific requirements when the ‘shell and core’ construction is well advanced meaning that ‘last’ minute changes are inevitable. Such changes posed a significant challenge for our team, as there was typically very little lead-time to incorporate specific tenant requirements within the rapidly evolving structure. As such, our experts needed to ensure that the units would be flexible for future tenants without adding significant cost to the base build design.

puregym at the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
The Springs offers endless retail and leisure opportunities, including a state-of-the-art new gym and a cinema. Image: Giles Rocholl Photography

The gym tenant’s vibration requirements were onerous, which could have led to a significant increase in steel weights/cost. To mitigate this, our experts specified clever stiffening of the structure combined with activity specific zoning, allowing cost-effective engineering of the tenant’s desired layout.

Our acoustic engineers also had to find solutions to prevent noise transfer into the cinema screens from the rest of the building. This required close collaboration of our structural and acoustic specialists to provide acoustic isolation between the main superstructure and the individual auditoria.

The service offered by Buro Happold was to a very high standard. They were particularly good at communicating extensive and complicated technical data in a clear and concise way to assist with critical and timely decision-making. Their ability to tailor key information to the immediate project needs adds value to their work and the project as a whole.

Andrew Schofield, Contracts Manager, GMI Construction Group
the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
The Springs has attracted major retailers including M&S Foodhall, Boots, TK Maxx, H&M and Nandos. Image: Giles Rocholl Photography


As tenants were not involved in the design of the shop units until very late in the base build process, flexibility and agility were key client drivers. The end date for construction was fixed irrespective of tenant change requirements, therefore handover dates had to be achieved.

It was imperative that extensive and complicated technical design data was communicated quickly and concisely to assist with critical and timely decision-making as construction rapidly progressed. Computational engineering was used to model the various scenarios and to allow quick turnaround times for insightful design to be undertaken.

the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
Image: Giles Rocholl Photography

The gym solution was delivered by close collaboration of our structural and acoustic specialists to minimise noise and vibration transfer between tenant premises. We rationalised the requirements based on how the tenant intended to use the gym spaces and ensured that the sensitive areas met their stringent vibration criteria.

The steelwork for the raked seating within the cinema boxes consisted of a separate secondary frame which only provided support to the seating. This approach meant that the secondary steelwork could then be installed with acoustic isolation pads between the connections to the previously erected primary structure, preventing noise transfer. A floating floor strategy was also used to simplify construction and improve buildability, while still providing the acoustic isolation required.

the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
Image: Giles Rocholl Photography

Design flexibility and agility is a key client driver on retail schemes, a point which was clearly understood by Buro Happold through all stages of design; their briefings were well constructed, opinions offered and solutions provided to facilitate best value.

Richard Burns, Consultant Project Manager, Thorpe Park Developments Limited


Our experts merged tried and tested, simple solutions with an innovative approach. Simplicity and buildability were critical requirements due to the tight programme and opening date, which could not be missed. We overcame challenges with clever and collaborative engineering, which minimised base build change and optimised both programme and cost benefits.

the springs thorpe park retail park leeds
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