Sovereign Square is set to grow further in the next few years, but what effect will its regeneration have upon Leeds?
The site of the old Queens Hall has been wasted for twenty five years. In that time it has masqueraded as a car park, in a decent location at the south of Leeds Train Station, yet a sufficient purpose has never really been found to breathe life into the area’s significant potential.
The ambitious Criterion Place project once signalled regeneration in Leeds, with its promise of helping to start a skyscraper city as the tallest building in Leeds, yet it fell short of reality when it became just another forgotten casualty of the recession.
With neighbouring buildings having been re-purposed and erected with a certainty for the future, the area now known as Sovereign Square has been left to ponder where it goes to next.
Thankfully, progress is finally being made. KPMG have kicked off the regeneration with their new Leeds offices and Bruntwood are set to take this rolling start, alongside with Kier Property, and capitalise on the progress that’s happening across the rest of the city.
The next part of the plans will be a new neighbour for KPMG, known as No.3 Sovereign Square, which has recently been granted the planning permission it needs to become a part of Leeds’ bustling business sector.
A new development
The fact that Sovereign Square is fast becoming a key cog in the development of Leeds as a city is taken further by the fact that Bruntwood themselves are a Leeds-based company. Their role within and commitment to the city has been noted for their regeneration work in Leeds and now its future is something Craig Burrow, Bruntwood’s Director of Leeds is hugely excited about.
“Playing a part in the city’s development is what we do as a business,” explains Burrow. “I think Sovereign is different in the sense that it is a new build. Previously, Bruntwood has had a reputation for buying 1960s, 1970s and 1980s buildings for refurbishment, but we’ve diversified over the last few years and this is another example of how we have done that. Leeds is a city we’ve been operating in for nine or ten years now, and we were always looking to grow the portfolio and Sovereign Square is an exciting addition to that.”
The six storey building will provide Leeds with a considerable expansion to both prospective business and leisure facilities in the city. There will be 93,240 square foot of Grade A space, the bulk of which is for office use, but also includes 10,400 square foot for retail and leisure use.
While the figures may not do excitement much justice on paper, the new development is set to continue the regeneration of a once stagnant part of Leeds even further. It aims to provide a link-way between the city’s South Bank, business and financial district and the city centre. And by doing so, while maintaining its core values, No.3 Sovereign Square is set to provide another significant marker in Leeds’ continual development.
Perfectly placed for success
For Burrow and Bruntwood, the importance of the site’s position cannot be underestimated. Being able to mould an area they call ‘a key site in the city’ means there’s a certain prestige that will undoubtedly follow it, particularly since the area has been so neglected for so long. “It’s one that has been a stalled development for many years since the Queen’s Hall was dropped in 1989,” Burrow points out.
“In terms of the profile of the site, it’s very high – it fronts the city centre loop, and Sovereign Square is already an established business address, with it being very close to the station and the retail offer, as well as in terms of connecting the city. It is a key component for the future plans of the South Bank so we think it is a fantastic site.”
No.3 should be in a position to pull some big businesses in, particularly those that are looking for a foothold in Leeds and the North as a whole. With the likes of Deloitte, BT and Pinsent Mason in the near vicinity, any prospective occupiers will be in esteemed company.
The city centre park we’ve been waiting for
But what does Sovereign Square mean for the city as whole? Big business names are all well and good, but having an eyesore as a landmark isn’t something we take lightly.
Aesthetically, it looks appealing with its dual brick and glass fronted façades, with the former allowing it to blend into the surrounding architecture with ease, something vital when you consider the regeneration that has gone into Leeds.
What should prick up the interest of Loiners in particular is the complete plan of the whole of Sovereign Square. As the KPMG and No.3 buildings take shape so too will a brand new city centre park, one that takes up more space than the buildings themselves. The landscaping of the site is something that has been of a specific interest to Bruntwood and Leeds City Council.
Burrows knows the importance of such versatility and is excited by the prospect of being part it, ” the way the council approached Sovereign Square was to break it down into manageable plots and sizes. The green space acts as a centrepiece – I know it’s something that the council are very precious about and proud of. It’s still to be delivered but it looks like it will be fantastic”
Once No.3 is completed – building is set to begin by January 2015 and should last for around eighteen months, opening around mid-2016 – the final plot outlined for construction and should be up for tender by the turn of the year and its future will be decided as No. 3 goes up.
For the Sovereign Square site, it’s progress that is occurring not before time. Once a bustling arena that was the hub of Leeds’ musical entertainment, it has laid to waste for twenty five years too long. Bruntwood, Kier and Leeds City Council are now making significant progress in restoring it to the kind of importance it deserves, and if it can contribute to the city’s economy and reputation as well as providing a practical and aesthetic boost, then it may well be a Leeds success story, albeit overdue.
What do you make of the new Sovereign Square development? Are you excited to see how it turns out or would you prefer to see something else in its place? Let us know in the comments…