Leeds is changing and it’s changing fast – but what’s next? We’ve got the answer…
Every month somewhere new opens. A bar, a restaurant, a shop. But when we look back in 10 years, we won’t remember them. We will, however, remember the building that stole the title of tallest building in Leeds from Bridgewater Place and we’ll certainly remember our first 7-minute train ride to Manchester – pipeline or pipedream? So read on to find out about 15 big developments in the pipeline for Leeds, as well as two more that have now fallen through.
CEG are going to change the Leeds skyline
Right now, Bridgewater Place is the tallest building in Leeds. Hell, it’s the tallest building in Yorkshire – but not for long, because CEG have now filed plans for a 3.52-hectare mixed-use development on the South Bank, and it includes a 40-storey residential building that could stand at 136.5 metres – that’s 24 metres taller than Bridgewater Place.
It’s not just one building though. CEG: Southbank is a huge project, spread across five parcels of land on the South Bank, and it has big ambitions. The aim is to create a vibrant gateway into the city, with an attractive public realm and inspiring architecture – each pocket of land will have its own distinctive style. Once complete, the development will have up to 70,000 square metres of Grade A office space and up to 750 homes.
The University of Leeds is creating the UK’s first centre for high speed rail technologies
Transport is one of the hottest topics in Leeds and now it’s set to become one of the hottest research topics too, because the University of Leeds has announced that it is going to invest £10 million in opening the UK’s first dedicated centre for high speed rail technologies and system integration.
The new centre will cover everything from foundations and traction systems to energy harvesting, sensor technology and digital systems. It will even have its own high speed railway infrastructure and vehicle system test facility. The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration will establish Leeds as a centre for excellence on a world level, in an industry that’s becoming more and more important – the UK is investing £12 billion a year in rail infrastructure and high speed rail investment is predicted to reach over £380 billion by 2022.
An old viaduct is going to be turned into a garden walkway 25 feet above the ground
It’s been rumoured for years, but now Leeds really is getting its own version of New York’s High Line as plans have been approved to turn the viaduct on the Doncaster Monkbridge site opposite City Island into a garden walkway. It will be a stunning addition to Leeds, but it also has a purpose, because it will connect the West End of the city to the South Bank.
At 5,500 square metres, the garden walkway will be about the same size as Briggate, and will take you from Wellington Place over the River Aire to the Doncaster Monkbridge site – which, by the way, will be home to five new apartment buildings, ranging from 11 to 21 storeys in size.
Leeds City College will invest £33.4 million in their new campus
Education in Leeds is set to get a massive boost as Leeds City College are hard at work on their new £33.4 million campus. It’s set to revolutionise their Digital, Creative Arts and Health Science courses, helping to bolster the city’s reputation as a digital powerhouse.
The 11-storey campus will boast world-class facilities, including a specialist childcare training centre and a suite of science, computing and digital technology labs. But that’s not all. It will also have a brand new performance centre, as well as state-of-the-art film and recording studios. The next generation is in good hands.
Vastint’s plans for the Tetley site have been approved (and they include a 5-acre park)
It’s official. Vastint’s plans for the former Tetley site have been approved, so it’s full steam ahead for their new waterfront development. It’s a biggy for the city, and not just because it’ll bring the historic site back into use. It’s also going to be home to a new 5-acre park – City Park will be made up of three distinctive zones all linked with paths and tree-lined streets.
The park will be framed by a number of exciting new developments, one of which will stand at 119.7 metres, knocking Bridgewater Place off the top spot (even if it will only be for a little while). They’ll be creating 850 new homes, 5% of which are set aside for affordable housing, alongside 85,000 square metres of office space and 15,000 square metres of leisure space.
There’s new hope for the regeneration of Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works
Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works have stood empty for over 40 years, but now it looks like they’ll finally be put back into use, Leeds City Council have approved plans for Hunslet Riverside, a new regeneration projection that will see the Grade II listed buildings transformed into a mixed-use development with 699 apartments.
But it’s not just the landmarks themselves that will benefit from the project – the Council have committed to improving connectivity between Hunslet and the city centre, with enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes, as well as the construction of a new car-free bridge across the River Aire.
The £39 million redevelopment of Headingley Stadium is a go
Dear lord. It was on, it was off, it was on again – so far, the story of Headingley Stadium’s redevelopment has read like the plot of Emmerdale, but it seems they’ve finally got their act together. And thank goodness for that, because if they hadn’t struck the £39 million deal, they wouldn’t be able to host international test cricket matches after 2019.
Luckily, the money is not only in the bank, but already being put to good use. The South Stand is in the process of being demolished and it will soon be replaced with a new three-tiered stand that can hold 5,060 people, increasing the cricket ground’s capacity to 18,500. It’s expected to be complete by late spring 2019.
George Street is getting a modern update and an apart-hotel
Victoria Gate is open and it’s time for the rest of George Street to catch up – which is why Town Centre Securities presented initial proposals to Leeds City Council last week to transform the section of George Street between Kirkgate Market and the new shopping arcade.
Designed to revitalise the street, they want to demolish the outdated 1930s and 1980s buildings, replacing them with a new apart-hotel and nine commercial units. The hope is that by bringing more people to the area and creating new, vibrant routes into the market, they can bring it to life once more, returning it to its former glory.
Hyperloop could have us in Manchester in 7 minutes
Hyperloop is a revolutionary super-fast transport system and it might be coming to Leeds. The Northern Arc proposal would link Liverpool to Glasgow, stopping at Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh along the way – and it’s now one step closer to becoming a reality.
2600 teams entered the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, but only 10 made the final cut – and The Northern Arc was one of them. Ryder Architecture and Arup, the brains behind the proposal, are now working with Hyperloop to try to make it happen – that means they can tap into their network of partners, get full access to their technology and even utilise their ability to raise capital in creative ways. It’s a long, long way off, but damn it’d be good.
West Yorkshire Playhouse is set to become a theatre for the 21st century
West Yorkshire Playhouse is one of our cultural treasures, but their building hasn’t kept pace with their ambition. It’s time for that to change, which is why they’ve submitted plans to Leeds City Council’s Executive Board for a major redevelopment of their site on Quarry Hill.
The £13.6 million project will see them reposition the entrance so it faces the city, inviting people in and reconnecting it with the wider community. But that’s not all. They’ll also be building a new studio, updating the decor and improving accessibility across the board so disabled visitors can make the most of every show.
Leeds has been selected as the government’s new regional hub
In what has been confirmed as the biggest commercial property deal in Leeds history, the government is bringing its new regional hub to Leeds. They’re taking a 378,000 square foot new build at Wellington Place and it will be home to 6,000 civil servants when it opens in 2020.
It will be one of 18-22 strategic hubs across the UK, each of which acts as a catalyst for growth within its host city. Here it will create thousands of jobs as HM Revenue and Customs take up a 25-year lease alongside NHS Digital. This is a huge vote of confidence in Leeds and one that proves what we’ve known for a long time – that we’re not just at the heart of the city region, but also a key player in the Northern Powerhouse.
The University of Leeds is opening a new innovation and enterprise centre
NEXUS is an innovation and enterprise centre designed to get business and academic minds working together towards shared goals. Collaboration drives innovation – and they’ll be doing it in a state-of-the-art space that’s been designed with problem-solving, idea generation and cooperation in mind.
The NEXUS Innovation and Enterprise Centre is spread across six floors and covers 6,684 square metres. It’ll have a 120-seat lecture theatre, as well as 4 seminar rooms, 12 labs, 12 meeting rooms and 60 office spaces. But that’s not all. They’ve even made room for a cafe, a business incubator, an exhibition space and a lounge.
Ambitious plans put forward for Leeds Train Station
Leeds Train Station is the busiest transport hub in the North, with 100,000 people passing through it every day – but if we’re completely honest, it’s a bit of a dump. The new Southern Entrance was a start, but the real work is yet to come, which is why Leeds City Council’s Executive Board have just approved a new report on the guiding principles of turning the station into an integrated transport hub.
What might surprise you is how far the plan reaches. Sure, it talks about the design of the station and how it’s going to integrate with the new HS2 hub, but it also goes beyond that. It talks about creating a pedestrian route between Temple Works and Leeds Docks similar to Briggate. It also looks at how we can bring the Dark Arches back to life, and whether New Station Street should be (duh duh duh) pedestrianised, with City Square becoming a predominantly public space. They’re not just looking at the station itself, they’re looking at the whole experience of arriving in the city.
Caddick have revealed plans for a new £300 million development at Quarry Hill
Nicknamed SOYO, the latest development from Caddick will see the derelict site at Quarry Hill redeveloped to create a modern mixed-use neighbourhood, which promises flats and offices alongside a new 2-acre park and a hotel. It represents a £300 million investment in the area, which is already set to benefit from the renovation of West Yorkshire Playhouse and the new Leeds City College campus.
They’re starting with two 16-storey apartment buildings from Moda Living. Together, they’ll offer 515 rent-only flats with an on-site gym, games room, shared lounges and a rooftop terrace. They’ll also have 9,000 square foot of commercial space, so expect a mix of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. When that’s done, they’ll be adding a hotel and two new blocks, which could be used for student accommodation, apartments or office space.
Leeds United are raising their game
For a long time, Leeds United has held the city back. They were relegated from the Premiership in 2004 and the Championship in 2007 – they’re still our team, we still support them (Leeds has the highest average home attendance of any other Championship club), but our absence from the Premier League has had a major impact on the global awareness of our city.
The good news is, things seem to be turning around. In June 2017 Andrea Radrizzani bought the club, and the board followed that up with a bold move – they secured the ownership of Elland Road. Now they’re looking to make another major change, by building their new Category 1 first team and academy training facilities. Not only will the new facilities be Premier League standard, but they’ll be closer together and more efficient. They’ll be accompanied by a Leeds United Foundation sporting and education offering and community sports facilities.
But Burberry won’t be bringing Temple Works back to life, after all
It was one of the biggest stories of 2015, but Burberry have now pulled out of their plans to move their trenchcoat manufacturing and weaving facility to the South Bank. The state-of-the-art factory earmarked for the site adjacent to Temple Works was a huge coup for Leeds and would have seen £50 million invested in the city. But it wasn’t just the arrival of a great British brand that had us talking – they also planned to restore Temple Works, giving the Grade I listed mill a new lease of life.
Two years on, those plans have gone up in smoke. They put them on hold when we voted out – and then earlier this year, they announced that they were off the table completely. Apparently, they’re still committed to Leeds, and they’re opening a new office, but it feels like a consolation prize – they made a promise, they didn’t keep it. Not that we’re bitter, but we’ll be skipping the trenchcoats this winter.
And Wetherspoon’s ain’t getting their way at Elinor Lupton Centre
Can you call Wetherspoon’s a big thing? Probably not, but if it can bring a long out of use landmark back to life, it can have a pass. Unfortunately, they fell at the final hurdle in their mission to get a liquor license for the Grade II listed Elinor Lupton Centre on Headingley Lane.
It’s been a long, drawn-out process – Leeds City Council refused their planning request in 2015, but Wetherspoons later won the appeal. District Judge Mallon has now sided with the council, stating ‘fundamental contradictions’ in their case (what, you can’t focus on food and sell three shots for a fiver?) What will happen next is anyone’s guess, but let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out – that building has stood empty long enough already.