Want the inside track on the big changes coming to Leeds over the next few years? Look no further…
Last March, the world came to a standstill. Or so it seemed. But in the background, work continued on these major projects. Once complete, they’ll have a transformational impact on Leeds, edging us ever closer to our ambition of becoming a global destination. From the skyscraper that’s set to become the tallest building in Yorkshire to the two world-class gateways that will welcome people into the city, this is the future of Leeds.
The rise of the Temple District
The development of the South Bank continues apace with the new Temple District. CEG have created a masterplan for the area that straddles Water Lane and Globe Road in Holbeck. It includes a series of new office and residential buildings, as well as improvements to the public realm.
There’s detailed planning permission for the project’s first two phases, which will create two buildings with 176,000 square foot of office space alongside ground-floor retail and leisure units. But that’s just a drop in the ocean, because they’re seeking planning permission for a further 1.1 million square foot of offices, flats, shops, hotels and restaurants, which could be a game-changer for the area.
The arrival of Lisbon Square
The former Leeds International Pool site on the edge of the city centre is set for a £270 million development. It’s been used as a car park since its demolition in 2009, but will soon be transformed into a landmark mixed-use development known as Lisbon Square.
Leeds City Council has chosen Marrico Asset Management and Helios Real Estate as the developers – and they have ambitious plans. Across two buildings, they’re going to create 500 student and 400 professional apartments. The development will also have a 300-bed hotel and 150,000 square foot of office space, alongside significant public realm improvements.
The first-ever UK Infrastructure Bank
In this year’s budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed that the UK’s first ever Infrastructure Bank will be based in Leeds. From Spring 2021, the £12 billion fund will be open to invest in public and private projects across the UK. It will help finance the Green Industrial Revolution and enable the UK to reach its goal of being net zero carbon by 2050.
The bank is being set up to replace the funding lost from the European Investment Bank, which the UK will leave at the end of the Brexit transition period. Not only will it co-invest alongside private investors through a mix of loans and guarantees, but it will also take equity stakes in certain projects.
The future of the former Leeds Dock casino
The old Alea Casino on Leeds Dock has stood unoccupied since March 2013, but not for much longer. A change of use application has been approved by Leeds City Council, so site owners Allied London can repurpose the casino as Grade A offices.
The reimagined development will have a business lounge, reception area and food outlet on the ground floor, with a small cinema on the second floor and 60,000 square foot of offices across the rest of the building. They’re also going to add a new public area on the mezzanine level that will double the current height of the ground floor.
The new Leeds City College campus on Mabgate
Hot on the heels of their recent expansion into Quarry Hill, Leeds City College has revealed major plans for a new campus on nearby Mabgate. Once approved, the project will transform a derelict building into a thriving hub of activity once more.
Designed by local architects Cartwright Pickard, the new development will combine heritage features with state of the art facilities. Studio 24, a traditional Victorian-era building, will act as the entrance to the wider campus, which will include top quality sports, education and residential facilities. The plans include a new community space, in the form of a multi-use games area, and it’s hoped that this will act as a catalyst for investment in the local area.
The transformation of City Square
As the main gateway into Leeds, City Square is responsible for those all-important first impressions. It needs to have wow-factor, but right now, it’s dominated by 4 lanes of traffic. That will soon change as new plans to pedestrianise the square come to fruition, giving us a unique opportunity to create a world-class public space.
And that’s exactly what’s on the cards. Leeds City Council has launched a competition to find a design team for the £3.5 million transformation. They’ve already narrowed it down to a list of five companies, who will now develop a concept design for the future of City Square that’s welcoming, inclusive, sustainable and representative of the city and its people.
The next phase of Kirkstall Forge
The £450 million vision for Kirkstall Forge is moving apace. One Kirkstall Forge is fully let and the new train station is used by over 200,000 passengers a year. Now attention has switched to building a new residential neighbourhood on the banks of the River Aire.
Once complete, it will have 136 apartments, ranging from studios to three-bedroom flats, and 77 contemporary houses. These open-plan homes will come with floor-to-ceiling windows, open staircases and high ceilings. They’re also making a massive investment in the public realm, with a new plaza and a small pocket park.
The long-awaited makeover of The Queens
The Queens is a true Leeds landmark, and now this Grade II-listed gem will get the makeover it so richly deserves. Owners QHotels have invested £16 million in a game-changing refurbishment that will bring it into the 21st century.
Building work is underway as they renovate each and every bedroom, before adding 17 more to create a grand total of 232 rooms. They’re restoring many of the hotel’s original features and creating a new social hub at the heart of the hotel with a host of communal areas on the ground floor. There will be a new cafe, bar and restaurant with an outdoor terrace for alfresco dining.
The opening of the Leeds Solar Park
Leeds will soon be one step closer to achieving its aim of being carbon neutral by 2030. Banks Renewables, an industry-leading renewable energy company based in Durham, has revealed plans to transform 50 hectares of old farmland into a new solar panel park.
Once operational, it could meet the annual energy requirements of 12,000 homes across the city and displace 9,400 tonnes of CO2 per year. Not only will it have a positive environmental impact, it will help the community too – £25,000 of the revenue generated by the scheme has been committed to a benefits fund to support local charities, community groups and good causes.
The new tower at Arena Point
Arena Point, one of the tallest buildings in Leeds, will soon be knocked down and replaced with an even taller one. Olympian Homes will replace the 1960s office block near First Direct Arena with a 43-storey tower that will become one of the biggest buildings in Yorkshire.
The new building is set to bring 694 student flats to Leeds. Expect a mix of self-enclosed studios and shared cluster apartments that come complete with a communal living room and kitchen area. There will also be a private roof terrace and 9,100 square foot of space for shops and restaurants.
The first zero-carbon workspace in Leeds
Sustainable developer Citu has begun work on the first net-zero carbon commercial building in Leeds. The Place will sit at the centre of their game-changing Climate Innovation District and will create an innovative, flexible workspace made using low-carbon materials.
But that’s just the beginning of its eco-credentials. The ultra-efficient design reduces energy consumption and the MVHR offers natural ventilation with minimal heat loss. Designed to create a healthier, more positive environment for post-pandemic workers, it will have a dedicated roof terrace, with a tennis court, yoga space and ample room for collaboration and socialising.
The renovation of a historic church
As one of the oldest churches in Leeds, St Mary’s in Richmond Hill opened in 1851, but it has been left empty since 1989. Now in a state of almost total disrepair, this Grade II* listed treasure is set to be transformed into a new complex of 175 apartments.
Leeds-based architects Brewster Bye have worked closely with Historic England, Leeds Civic Trust and Leeds City Council’s conservation team to retain as much of the original church as possible. They’re going to restore the chancel, transept and altar, but will have to remove the nave and aisles to make way for a 62-apartment extension. The presbytery next door will also be demolished and replaced with a new build of 113 apartments.
The opening of a rail research institute
Leeds will be home to one of the most advanced rail test and development centres in the world. The Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration is a new development at the University of Leeds. Curtrently paused due to the pandemic but set to resume as soon as possible, it will be the UK’s first research centre dedicated, not just to high speed rail, but to all speeds and associated system integrations.
It will have wide-ranging test facilities and a System Integration Innovation Centre, which will help change the way new trains are developed and brought into service. The result? It’ll reduce delays and costs, while improving passenger satisfaction. When HS2 arrives in the city, 40,000 extra rail industry and related sector jobs are predicted across the Leeds City Region by 2050 and this new centre of excellence will help put the city at the forefront of the global rail industry.
The arrival of the Tories
Love them or loathe them, the Conservatives are coming to Leeds. The Tory Party has revealed plans to open a new campaign headquarters in the city on the back of the gains the Tories made across Yorkshire in the 2019 General Election.
While they’re still keeping their Conservative Campaign Headquarters in Westminster, the Leeds HQ will act as its Northern counterpart. They’ll coordinate volunteer and national funding campaigns from here, as well as bringing in a team of press officers to handle media relations work and take on a range of political tasks.
The new tallest building in Yorkshire
At 142 metres, Two Springwell Gardens is set to knock Bridgewater Place off its pedestal and take the title of the tallest building in Yorkshire. Developers Citylife are going to transform the cityscape with this 46-storey tower, which will come in at a cool £175 million by time it’s finished in 2022.
Once complete, it will create 604 flats, including four duplex penthouses with their own private terraces offering incredible views across the city. It will have communal gardens across the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 33rd floors – expect an outdoors-indoors vibe with lush greenery all around you and floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy those views. And on the ground floor? Oodles of retail and leisure space awaits.
The overhaul of key bus routes
Key bus routes across the city are at a risk of congestion, but Connecting Leeds has a plan to fix the problem by improving five bus corridors from the city centre to Alwoodley, Roundhay, Adel, Wakefield and Bradford.
The first phase of the project will focus on the A647 between Leeds and Bradford. This £9.78 million investment includes the conversion of the current two-plus lane into a dedicated bus lane as well as road widening and junction improvements. It will also reduce bus journey times by up to 15 minutes for the 24,000 bus users on the route.
The £24 million transformation of Morley
Local residents, businesses and community groups have been pushing for investment in Morley for years and now they’ve made it happen. They’ve had a Town Investment Plan bid to the government’s Towns Fund approved which will transform the centre of Morley and make it fit for the 21st century.
The Grade I-listed Morley Town Hall and Town Square will be renovated and money will be allocated to create a Heritage Investment Fund to protect historic local buildings. They’re also looking to the future by investing in two new adult education centres and overhauling local transport infrastructure to better connect Morley with the rest of the city.
The future of transport in the Leeds City Region
Leeds is the largest metropolitan area in Europe without a mass transit system, but that could finally be about to change. West Yorkshire Combined Authority have revealed plans to transform the transport network in the Leeds City Region over the next twenty years.
By the end of this decade, the first phases of the mass transit system will have begun, with plans for nine lines connecting Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Halifax and the towns in between. It’s part of wider proposals across the region that will improve transport connections in the most deprived West Yorkshire communities and invest in new rail infrastructure at every station in the region with the arrival of HS2.
The construction of City Square House
When City Square House was demolished in 2005, it was meant to be replaced by a 15-storey office block, but after endless false starts, it became nothing more than a car park. Now, 16 years later, the £47 million development is set to break ground in May.
This is the last undeveloped site fronting City Square and it’s already been let to DLA Piper in the city’s biggest private sector pre-let deal for 20 years. The 12-storey building will offer 140,000 square foot of Grade A office space, reception areas and breakout spaces, with private roof terraces on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. Built with sustainability in mind, it will also have extensive cycling, electric vehicle and e-bike charging point facilities. It’s set to be complete in 2023.
The new city centre park on the old Tetley’s Brewery
There’s a five-acre city centre park at the heart of Vastint’s £155 million redevelopment of the old Tetley’s Brewery site. It will stretch from the banks of the River Aire all the way down to Crown Point Road, with a new bridge between Sovereign Square and Leeds Station. Once finished, the park will provide a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and create a new outdoor event space.
This project is now one of Europe’s largest regeneration programmes and due for completion in 2023. It includes 850 new homes, as well as 85,000 square metres of office space, 15,000 square metres of leisure space and a new 400-bed hotel. As part of the project, they’re going to restore the Crown Hotel to its former glory as a pub for the local community.
The two game-changing hospitals at Leeds General Infirmary
Leeds Teaching Hospitals have revealed plans to transform healthcare in the city. They’re going to build two new hospitals over the next ten years as part of their new Hospitals of the Future campaign. It represents a £450 million investment in Leeds.
The first will expand its critical care services for adults, add a high-tech radiology department and increase the number of state-of-the-art theatres. The second will become a dedicated children’s hospital that will bring the children’s services into a single purpose-built facility for the first time. It will offer a hospital care experience for kids like Leeds has never had before as they combine family-friendly surroundings with cutting edge technology.
The transformation of The Headrow
The Headrow is a major route in and out of Leeds city centre and its £20.7 million makeover is going full steam ahead. It’s part of the wider £174 million project to upgrade public transport and improve the public realm across the city. They’re in the process of removing the central reservation, adding cycle lanes and changing road layouts to reduce congestion and increase bus reliability.
The area’s going to look very different too. From new bus shelters to pedestrian crossings, they’re creating a world-class gateway into the city. One of the project’s most exciting features is the creation of two new public spaces on Cookridge Street and New Briggate, bringing European-style alfresco cafe culture to Leeds. It’s due to be completed by the end of 2020.
The new British Library of the North
The British Library already has a base in Leeds, at the research and archive facility at Boston Spa, but now they’re going one step further by opening The British Library of the North here. If all goes to plan, they’ll transform the Temple Works site in Holbeck into a major new public space and save the historic Grade I-listed building from dereliction.
It comes off the back of a £25 million cash injection from the government. They’re working closely with Leeds City Council and property developers CEG to finalise plans for Temple Works, while also giving their Boston Spa branch a high-tech redevelopment to make it fit for the 21st century.
The green walkway in the heart of the city
New York has one, Paris has one and now Leeds is getting one. That’s right, we’ll soon have our own garden walkway. Plans have been approved to turn the viaduct on the old Doncaster Monkbridge site into a leafy green walkway 25-feet above the ground. This new attraction will help to boost connectivity across the city by linking the South Bank to the West End.
The pedestrian walkway will be about the same size as Briggate and will feature a series of leisure units in the arches below. Expect a host of new shops, bars and restaurants as part of a wider mixed-use development surrounding the viaduct. It will have five skyline-altering apartment buildings, ranging from 11 to 21 storeys, that will add 357 flats to the city centre and create a thriving new community.
The transformation of the Northern Civic Quarter
Despite getting planning approval for a mix of office, leisure and hotel accommodation in 2020, new plans for the Northern Civic Quarter near Millennium Square have been revealed. The sympathetic transformation of three former Leeds City Council buildings is still at the heart of the plans which also include considerable public realm improvements.
The Leonardo and Thoresby buildings, formerly a Victorian school and printworks, will offer 54,000 square foot of student accommodation. There will be 475 bedrooms in total as they redevelop the existing buildings and build an 11-storey extension on the old car park. Meanwhile, the former Leeds Central High School building on Great George Street will form a separate development and be transformed into a stylish apartment building.
The UK’s first National Poetry Centre
Last year, Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage was named as the UK Poet Laureate and one of his first duties was to reveal plans for the country’s first ever National Poetry Centre. He’s working with Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds and Leeds 2023 to identify a site, secure funding and open by 2023.
Once finished, the centre will bring poetry in-line with national arts like opera and ballet, and put Leeds right at the heart of the ongoing resurgence of British poetry. It will be a place where poets can perform readings, showcase their work and hone their skills, as well as offering a resource centre where anyone can buy or borrow books.
The streets around Leeds Corn Exchange reimagined
The Corn Exchange is at the heart of a £21 million project to create a world-class gateway into Leeds. They’re pedestrianising Call Lane all the way from The Calls to the Corn Exchange, creating two new public spaces. The first will wrap around the Leeds landmark, doubling the space outside, while the second will transform the lower half of Call Lane into an alfresco dining destination.
But that’s just the beginning because the improvements will stretch from York Street in the city centre to Meadow Lane on the South Bank. Bus routes are being improved to reduce congestion and delays, Lower Briggate will adopt a new two-way system and the dual carriageway on Meadow Lane will be cut down to a single carriageway making way for the new city centre park.