Find out what the future holds for Leeds, as we round up the most exciting developments, events and transformations earmarked for Leeds…
Garden walkways 25 foot above the ground, city centre parks on the waterfront, innovative educational institutions that will transform business globally, and yes, a cheese festival – it’s all going down in Leeds. So without further ado, let us introduce you to 10 of the most exciting plans for Leeds’ future.
A viaduct walkway akin to New York’s High Line
One of the most exciting new things to be announced this year is the Doncaster Monkbridge development. Nestled on the waterfront opposite City Island, it will consist of five new apartment buildings holding 567 flats – but that’s not the most exciting bit, because they’re going to transform the old railway viaduct that runs through the site into a garden walkway connecting the South Bank to the West End of the city. At 5,500 square metres, the Leeds high line will be about the same size as Briggate, but this one will sit 25 metres above the ground, creating an attraction just like New York’s High Line.
A world-class waterfront
Leeds has not one, but two important waterways running through it, with the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal both flowing into the city centre. But unlike cities like Liverpool and London, we’ve never developed the waterfront into an aspirational space. That could soon change though, as updated plans for the South Bank’s regeneration include a major focus on the way we interact with the water. If all goes to plan, Leeds will soon be home to three new public spaces on the waterfront, with plans to introduce activities on the water itself.
A new urban bike park
This year it was announced that the old Middleton Park golf course will be given a new lease of life as an urban bike park. The new complex marks an exciting new collaboration between Leeds City Council, Sport England and British Cycling, as they transform the space into a network of bike trails and tracks. Designed for both mountain biking and BMX’ing, it will include a 6 kilometre cross country mountain bike trail and a ‘skills zone’ with flow trails, a dual slalom course and a jump zone, as well as a four-person pump and race track with a start gate and a scaled-down mini pump track for beginners.
A new innovation and enterprise centre
The University of Leeds is set to get even better with the construction of a £38 million innovation and enterprise centre. The state of the art facility, which has been named Nexus, will see academics working with local, national and international businesses to drive innovation, productivity and growth. Spread across six floors and 6,684 square metres, it will include 60 offices, 12 lab spaces and four seminar spaces, as well as an 80-cover café, a 120-seat lecture theatre and a business lounge. It will also be running an active programme of incubation for high growth technology-led business when it opens in Summer 2018.
A £33.4 million Leeds City College campus
Leeds City College is set to open a new campus in September 2019. The 11-storey development will be built at Quarry Hill, giving them an additional 15,000 square metres of space. Once open, their new campus will boast state of the art science, computing and digital technology labs, as well as specialist childcare training facilities. The arts will get a major boost too with a new performance centre, alongside art, dance and film studios.
A much less compact city centre
Although Leeds is the third largest city in the UK, the city centre feels very compact. But as the South Bank’s regeneration moves forward, that too could change. The South Bank covers a massive 185 hectare space, and new plans will see it integrated into the city centre with wide open walkways that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. The result? The size of the city centre will double as you’re welcomed into a vibrant new space filled with iconic architecture, aspirational workspaces, modern residential developments and public spaces that everyone can enjoy, including families.
A new cheese festival
That’s right, a cheese festival. They promise ‘some of the cheesiest cheeses in the world’ – well count us in! Expect everything from melted raclette to gooey mozzarella sticks and the kind of squishy, ‘can’t stop eating’ mac & cheese you could eat forever – all served up in a festival environment. Add cheese science and a whole load of wine/beer pairing know-how and you have an event to remember. The date is set for Saturday 16th September 2017 – look out for more details.
A new city centre park & an exciting development
Vastint (part of the Interogo Group and formerly of Inter IKEA, the development arm of Ikea) have announced their plans for the former Tetley Brewery site, and trust us when we say, there’s nothing ‘self assemble’ about it. They’re building a modern, multi-use development around a new 5 acre public park that reaches right to the edge of the River Aire. City Park will be made up of distinctive green spaces, linked together with tree-lined streets and walkways, while the development itself will stand out with some of the tallest buildings in the city, rivalling even Bridgewater Place.
A new ice cream festival
The only thing that could possibly compare with a cheese festival is an ice cream festival – and we’re getting one of those too. Set to take place on the August bank holiday weekend, from Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th August 2017, it will bring together all your favourite local ice cream parlours and producers for a day of delicious tastings. Try new flavours, sup frozen cocktails in the sun and listen to live music as they bring the experience to Leeds.
A major revamp for West Yorkshire Playhouse
It’s one of the city’s cultural gems – and it’s about to get even better. West Yorkshire Playhouse is set to undergo a £13.6 million refurbishment that will see the entrance turned to face the city, as well as improving access and adding a new studio space. Page\Park Architects were appointed last year to head up the landmark renovation project, following on the back of their work on Eden Court Theatre in Inverness and The Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.