Leader of Leeds City Council at Future Cities Forum
Image from architects BDP: Merrion House, home of the customer services hub for Leeds City Council, re-opened in 2018 after an 18 month refurbishment.
We are delighted that Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council will be joining our levelling-up discussions at the offices of international law firm DLA Piper in May.
Cllr Lewis was first elected as a Labour councillor to represent the Barwick and Kippax Ward, now the Kippax and Methley Ward, in 2003. He has held numerous positions during his time as a Councillor, including being the Chair of Metro (West Yorkshire's integrated Transport Authority between 2011 and 2015). He has been Leader of Leeds City Council since February 2021.
Leeds is the central city of the Leeds City Region, a classification for the city region's metropolitan area. The city region has a population of over 3 million, making it the second most populated metropolitan city region in the UK, behind Greater London. In the 17th century, Leeds was a major centre for the production and trading of wool, becoming a large mill town during the Industrial Revolution.
Buildings remain as a reminder of this significant industrial heritage in the form of Temple Works, built in Egyptian revival style by owner John Marshall in the1830s and where sheep were allowed to graze on the roof. It sits in the Holbeck district of Leeds, the UK's fastest growing city with a regional economy worth £64.6 billion. Over the next ten years, the economy of Leeds is expected to grow by 21%.
Like most cities in the UK, it is taking decisions about investment in redeveloping its city centre, and both Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at The British Library (which is currently assessing the potential for moving into Temple Works) and Andrew Clarke, Partner at DLA Piper, will be joining Cllr Lewis at our forum to discuss the opportunities that cultural and office expansion may offer the city.
The British Library has described the potential Temple Works project as "a major new public-facing centre for audiences and users in the north of England" with exhibitions, cultural events, schools programming, business support services and access to research collections.
We will be asking questions about the future of the region's economy and innovation, investment in infrastructure especially transport, and cultural assets that attract tourists while serving local communities.