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10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About the South Bank’s Regeneration

· Ali Turner · Discussion

The grand vision for the South Bank Leeds regeneration has been revealed and it might surprise you.

South Bank Leeds is set to double the size of the city centre and you can help to shape what it becomes. From parks and public spaces to a rejuvenated waterfront and new Leeds Station – fill out the survey and have your say!

The South Bank is one of the biggest success stories in the city’s growth, but we haven’t seen the half of it yet, because there’s much more to come…

From restoring historic buildings to easing pressure on commuters with a new entrance to the station, the South Bank Leeds regeneration has already brought a lot to the table. It’s now a digital and creative hub, with a series of landmark residential developments and an educational district that caters for 10,000 students. But even this is only the beginning, as an ambitious new vision has been revealed that will take the project to new heights and it has a few surprises in store.

Find out what they’ve got up their sleeves, and have your say, by completing the South Bank Leeds survey.

1. It will double the size of the city centre

Holbeck Urban Village

Credit: Tom Joy

The regeneration of the South Bank is something that we should all be proud of – but it’s not finished yet. In fact, plans for the future of the South Bank could double the size of the city centre, creating an aspirational space that’s the equivalent size of 250 football pitches.

It’s not about building more shopping centres, we’ve got enough of those, it’s about creating a destination for investment, learning, creativity, leisure and living – which is why the new plans are designed to complement what we already have, not repeat it. Think new residential, commercial and leisure developments, alongside major improvements to the public realm, including a host of family-friendly spaces and facilities.

2. It’s going to have a huge new park (and you can choose what it looks like)

South Bank Leeds

Woolwich Square, Gustafon Porter © Chris Mansfield

One of the most exciting new additions to Leeds’ South Bank is set to be a brand new city centre park. We’re talking huge swathes of green space, four and a half times the size of Millennium Square – just think of the potential. No seriously, think about it, because you get to choose. The council is inviting you to have your say on everything from what it looks like to how it’s used – you just need to fill out their South Bank survey.

So, what’s it to be? Do you want a park that hosts major events, a child-friendly space full of playgrounds and activities or a health-focused area with outdoor gym equipment? Would you prefer a large piece of open parkland, a central green spine that leads to a series of small, intimate green spaces or an L-shaped stretch of parkland that runs from the waterfront to Hunslet Road?

3. It’ll have a world class waterfront and at least 6 new public spaces

South Bank Leeds

Hammarby Sjöstad © Erik Lefvander, Fabege

Right now, the waterfront isn’t reaching its full potential, but the new vision for the South Bank aims to change that. The river will be at the heart of plans to improve the public realm, helping people to enjoy the waterfront in new ways, including the introduction of activities on the water itself.

The plans include at least six new public spaces, three of which are on the waterfront. The new HS2 forecourt will be accompanied by a gateway space that will lead straight down to the river from station, and a redesigned stretch of the waterfront east of the station that could include a bridge between Sovereign Square and the new park. They’ll be connected to two open community spaces by a network of brightly lit streets that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists.

4. It’ll put a host of historic buildings back into use

Tower Works South Bank Leeds

Credit: Tom Joy

The South Bank is absolutely full of history, in fact, it has some of the most important heritage sites in the UK. It was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and is home to over 30 listed buildings – but not all of them are in use, and that’s something that the new plans for the area will look to rectify.

Temple Works could be part of the larger plan for Burberry to move their production facility from Castleford to the South Bank, but iconic buildings like Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works are still empty and they’ll become a priority as the council seek to secure the future of the city’s heritage.

5. It will transform Leeds station

Leeds Train Station HS2

What the Leeds Station concourse could look like.

HS2 is going to be game changer for Leeds. It’s going to make the capital a hell of a lot more accessible, giving businesses in the north an almighty boost, as well as driving tourism and bolstering our reputation as a first rate city – clearly, we have a massive opportunity here, but to make the most of it, we need a station that lives up to our aspirations.

Already, the council have fought to combine the new HS2 station with the existing one, and now they’re working to create a unified space with a world class design with bars, restaurants and shops designed to bring the area to life. As well as making the station easily accessible, it will be surrounded by well-positioned bus stops, taxi points and car parks to help travellers continue their journey. The aim here is to use the station as a catalyst for regeneration, attracting landmark developments and community services to the area, as King’s Cross and St Pancras did in London.

6. It will be a great place to live and work

South Bank Leeds

© HafenCity Hamburg GmbH/Thomas Hampel

The regeneration of South Bank Leeds is expected to create 35,000 new jobs and 4,000 new homes. So you can expect new landmark developments like Granary Wharf, creating vibrant places to live and socialise – with a focus on families. When it comes to business, they’ll be looking to maintain the eclectic mix of enterprises in the South Bank, which sees huge global corporations like Sky rubbing shoulders will small independents like Duke Studios.

But jobs and homes alone aren’t enough to make the South Bank a great place to live and work – that’s where the other improvements come in. Think new public spaces, creatively designed to meet the city’s needs, where you can grab a bite on your lunch or take the kids to play, as well as new bars for after work drinks and new leisure facilities, so you can do a quick workout on your way home.

7. It’ll make pedestrians and cyclists a priority

South Bank Leeds

Lonsdale Street Dandenong © John Gollings, BKK Architects in association with Taylor Cullity Lethlan Landscape and Urban Design

The South Bank will become an extension of the city centre, so the council are looking at ways to make it more accessible – and part of that, is improving the experience for cyclists and pedestrians. That means extending our existing pedestrianised space into the South Bank, to create a new City Boulevard that will stretch from The Headrow, past the waterfront and the new Leeds Station, all the way down to the junction between Victoria Road and Meadow Lane.

80% of a typical city’s open space is its streets and every journey, be it by bike, car, bus or train, inevitably ends with walking, so the streets themselves will form an important part of the South Bank’s transformation. They’ll have segregated lanes to improve the pedestrian experience, making people a priority, while also offering a series of new cycle lanes to help cyclists get from A to B in a quick, easy, and most importantly, safe fashion. And you can look forward to beautifully landscaped, well lit streets with trees and greenery to give the South Bank a sense of calm.

8. It will be protected by the latest flood technology

South Bank Leeds

© West 8 – Simco Wavedeck at Toronto Central Waterfront

Nestled as it is on the edge of the waterfront, it’ll come as no surprise that the South Bank is at risk of flooding, or indeed, that flood resilience and sustainability is an important part of the new vision for the South Bank. Construction of the Flood Alleviation Scheme is already underway, and this should reduce the number of potential floods down to just 1 every 75 years.

So what else are they planning? Well, local buildings could have roofs that absorb water to be re-used in the area, and they’re also looking at creating public spaces that will store water in the event of flooding, diverting water through streams. Not only would these plans ease the pressure on the main waterways and protect the South Bank from future floods, but they would also add value to the landscaping of nearby developments.

9. It’ll change the way we move around the city

South Bank Leeds

Traffic will be encouraged to move around the city centre rather than through it

Traffic is obviously a major issue in Leeds, so the vision for South Bank Leeds includes a comprehensive strategy to help ease commuters’ pain. By transforming and expanding the City Loop, the council will encourage drivers to move around the city, rather than through it, creating a new City Boulevard designed for pedestrians, cyclists and slower moving vehicles, including new public transport routes.

This will be accompanied by the new parking strategy which, in a nutshell, will place Park and Rides outside the Inner Ring Road, long stay parking outside the new City Boulevard, and a mix of short stay and strategic long stay parking in the centre itself. The result will be a safer, more accessible city centre, with easy routes into and around Leeds.

10. It’ll bring communities together

South Bank Leeds

Kings Cross St Pancras © Gehl Architects

One of the reasons why South Bank Leeds is so important, is that fact that it will join up the dots, giving local communities in South Leeds a shared space that connects them to the city centre. Part of that is the survey, which invites communities across the city to have their say and shape the future of the South Bank – but there are also some great ideas on the table.

From new pedestrian bridges that connect the South Bank to Richmond Hill, to improvements to the underpass near Beeston Road, they’re looking for ways to make it easier reach the South Bank from Holbeck, Hunslet, Beeston, Cross Green and Saxton Gardens. But that’s not all. The new public spaces will be designed to meet the needs of nearby residents, with the potential for children’s playgrounds, allotments and urban gardens, as well as spaces that can events to bring local community together.

Have your say on the South Bank’s regeneration

Got an opinion? Want to help shape the future of the city centre? Take the South Bank Leeds survey online now or simply write your thoughts in the form below and hit to send.