Leeds: the new development opportunity
Leeds Holbeck Village - Courtesy: news.bbc.co.uk
The regeneration of Leeds South Bank is to set new markers in how modern cities should look and function.
The biggest project of its kind in Europe, the plan is to double the size of the city centre and shift the central axis to the river Aire. The 136 hectare site, the size of Edinburgh’s New Town, is being developed with the aim of creating 35,000 new jobs and 4,000 new homes. It makes Leeds a major European destination for both investor, visitor and those who want to work and live in the city.
Tom Bridges, Chief Officer for Economy and Regeneration at Leeds City Council, says there are some parallels to the outstanding London King’s Cross development: both have a strategic position at the end of high speed rail networks, and both will have opened up industrial waterfronts and buildings to modern office, education, domestic and recreational use.
Leeds is one the top two economic hubs of the North, has a leading university and art college, and a tight and compact city centre.
Leeds South Bank already has two new colleges and a new secondary school, which will have 10,000 students. Burberry is set to develop its main European manufacturing centre in the area with the restoration of the historic Temple works. The river Aire, for many decades underused by the city, is again becoming a focus for the population.
Tom stresses how Arup and Gehl Architects have produced a framework for the area, and Atkins and Gensler have been developing a master plan for a complete re-working of Leeds Station (already the busiest in the north of England) to accommodate HS2 and HS3. He notes that there are many investment and development opportunities available now. Some of these are working in partnership with local developers on projects which do not need the completed rail extension to flourish.
With its mix of new Passiv homes, restored industrial buildings, attractive public realm space and a new city centre park, combined with the very best digital connectivity, Leeds is determined to remain a European city leader.