Backing for Leeds Arena plan

Music fans and business leaders in Leeds have backed Clay Pit Lane to hit the high notes as the home of the city's new concert arena.

Your views on the location. Click here

As reported in the YEP, council bosses have selected the five-acre site on the northern edge of the city centre as their preferred location for the 12,500-seater venue.

Wednesday's decision came as a shock as it had been thought Sweet Street in Holbeck and land next to Leeds United's Elland Road ground were the only two places under consideration.

But the surprise nature of the choice has done nothing to dampen excitement among gig-goers at the prospect of the city getting its long-awaited arena.

Ian De-Whytell, boss of Leeds music store Crash Records, said today: "I think the location is fantastic.

"Having it in the city centre means people will be able to take advantage of everything we have to offer – the shops, the bars, the restaurants, the hotels.

"The amount of spin-off trade should be huge."

Gary Lumby, president of the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "We were very surprised at the decision because we didn't think (Clay Pit Lane] was in the running.

"However, we do understand why it has been chosen.

"The only concern we might have is that the area at the moment does not have great transport routes and we would be interested to see how the council plans to overcome possible congestion.

"The benefits of having it (at Clay Pit Lane] certainly outweigh the negatives, though."

Gordon Jackson, chair of Leeds Hotels Association, said he was "delighted".

He told the YEP: "A city centre location makes absolute sense, providing that the logistics of access, transport and parking are sorted out as a matter of priority."

The council has provoked anger in some quarters, however, by opting to build the arena by itself instead of sticking to its long-held plan of using a private developer.

Prior to Wednesday's meeting of the local authority's executive board, the choice of developer appeared to have come down to a straight fight between Leeds property tycoons Jan Fletcher and Peter Gilman.

They were both shortlisted for the role after a procurement process which stretched back to summer last year.

Ms Fletcher's Montpellier Estates firm would have built the arena on a five-acre site she owns at Sweet Street, south of the city centre.

It is understood Mr Gilman's GMI group was looking to use council-controlled land at Elland Road. In the event, though, senior councillors decided going it alone would offer better value for money.

Today both Montpellier and GMI declined to make any direct comment when asked if they were considering taking legal action against the authority.

They also refused to go into detail about how much they had spent during the ultimately-fruitless procurement process.

Leeds United chief executive Shaun Harvey was philosophical, meanwhile, about the local authority's decision to plump for Clay Pit Lane rather than Elland Road.

He said: "We believe locating the arena in the city centre will give it a greater chance of financial success and therefore we're not disappointed that it will not be on the land adjacent to the stadium."

Standing near the Merrion shopping centre, the Clay Pit Lane site is currently home to an unused university building and a car park.

It is jointly owned by the city council and Leeds Metropolitan University.

Council bosses will now enter into negotiations to buy the portion of land controlled by the university.

Leeds is the only major northern city without an arena capable of attracting top names like Oasis and Kylie Minogue.

Experts say the new facility will be worth 28m-a-year to the local economy and create more than 300 jobs.


Members of the public are being warned about about rogue websites advertising fake premium rate numbers for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' cruelty line.

SCAM ALERT: People warned of fake RSPCA websites advertising premium rate numbers