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Future Cities Forum member on the shortlist for Leeds City Square

CGI from Rushbond of view from Leeds station to Leeds City Square showing refurbished Majestic Building on left (home to Channel 4)

MICA Architects has been shortlisted in a RIBA competition to transform Leeds City Square, next to Leeds Station. The square has 19th century origins and is part of development proposals in the city to restore buildings and places from the Industrial Revolution to their former glory to help business and tourism..

With this and other important infrastructure projects in progress, Future Cities Forum's transport event in February next year will focus on station-led regeneration post Covid-19 and will look at a variety of schemes to enhance the arrival of passengers into cities as well as the digital revolution to make travel more efficient.

Next year will be important for the UK Government to show that its investment in infrastructure and transport measures are well-chosen and continuing to move forward. An extra £350 million on digital signalling was announced last July for the East Coast main line. Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines stated that two-thirds of its network signalling system would need replacing in the next 15 years but its newly announced deployment plan (LTDP) would help industry to research and develop innovative ideas and broaden skill sets and capabilities.

With concern for place and using station connections to the full, Manchester City Council is developing Ardwick Green, a historic centre close to Piccadilly Station where HS2 will have a stop, while Birmingham's University rail station is set for redevelopment in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games with £12 million of government funding.

MICA's Director Stuart Cade joined our forum in the autumn with Director of Regeneration at Leeds City Council, Adam Brannen, and the Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Ros Kerslake, to discuss future opportunities for preserving and re-purposing heritage buildings and places in our towns and cities, and what has been learned from successful projects that have anchored regeneration.

The architectural practice has expert experience in developing place around heritage. Stuart discussed the work he had led by Tottenham Court Road Station in London - transforming a noisy traffic-dominated and overlooked area around London's 1950s Centre Point Tower, into a thriving mixed use centre, where now passers-by want to linger. Stuart said:

'Revered and hated in equal measure when built, the site became effectively a roundabout. Part of our proposal for the Centre Point project was to remove the buses that circled, and to put in new public realm creating a public square instead.'

The re-design of the square in Leeds is part of a £1.8 billion devolution deal which also features the potential of the British Library anchoring the Temple Quarter development within Leeds Southbank. Adam Brannen said:

'We have some great heritage-linked projects and a current example is Temple Works, which is a fantastic project for the British Library and Leeds. However the cost is massive. It's an amazing building. The confidence is good with the British Library as strong as you can get for a global brand and with the prospects for bringing real change in that area by being an anchor. The government has set aside £25 million to bring the British Library into Temple Works but this is only part of the solution.'


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