Leeds city centre has been named one of the best places in the country to work, rest and play.
The bustling heart of Yorkshire’s unofficial capital is rated fifth in a new list of England’s most vibrant urban areas.
It has leapt up the league table from the comparatively-lowly 30th position it would have occupied if the same list had been compiled just over a decade ago.
Other places in the top 10 include the well-heeled London areas of Kensington and Chelsea.
Today the city’s showing was hailed as the perfect way to build on a successful year which has already seen the opening of the £300m Trinity Leeds shopping centre and the £60m First Direct Arena.
Gary Verity, chief executive of the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency, said: “This news comes at a great time and helps tell the country what people right here already know.”
Speaking on a visit to the city yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “[Leeds] is vibrant, and I think a lot of that is to do with the great history of the city, and I think quite a lot of it is to do with the lustre of being one of Britain’s leading university cities.”
The ‘vibrancy list’ has been put together by information services company Experian. Its experts analysed 75 urban areas using data from the 2011 Census.
Housing type, economic activity and the professional status of residents were all criteria that helped Experian pick out places with young, affluent populations – a key factor in deciding their level of vibrancy.
“It is [people’s] demand for leisure and entertainment, convenience and their ready use of technology that is helping to bring life and establish communities in our urban centres,” says Experian’s report.
Leeds’s urban area – classed as a 1km radius circle around the exact centre of the city – also performed well due to its high number of purpose-built flats and low unemployment rate.
The last decade has seen a continuation of the transformation of Leeds city centre that began with the stylish redevelopment of the neglected waterfront of the River Aire in the early 1990s. Top fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith have set up shop in the city, alongside restaurants backed by celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc. A new cultural quarter has sprung up around Quarry Hill while the O2 Academy Leeds music venue opened five years ago this month with a show from hometown indie rock heroes Kaiser Chiefs.
Evidence of the boom in city living was provided when 95 per cent of the flats in the Bridgewater Place skyscraper were snapped up in the space of just two months in 2004.