Desperate development bosses could soon be selling off some of Leeds’s empty land in buy-one-get one free type packages as they bid to boost inner city regeneration and new housing in the city.
Leeds City Council is launching a major drive to promote some of its “brownfield” sites – previously developed land which may have lain dormant and untouched for decades.
As part of its golden hello deal for developers, it is proposing “pairing off less viable with more viable sites into a single disposal”. However the authority insists it’s not about “quick sales”, but about “stimulating and supporting development of new homes” in admittedly “challenging locations”.
The city has 140 brownfield sites in its ownership, covering 150 hectares of potential development land.
Leeds needs to build 70,000 new homes by 2028 to meet escalating housing needs. Current targets are to build an average of 3,660 per year for the next four years, rising to more than 50,000 in 2017.
Some of the 29 sites which have been targeted in the new drive have lain dormant since the 1980s and 1990s.
The initial hitlist includes large chunks of Middleton Park, Seacroft and Gipton. Sites include the former Hill Top pub in Chapel Allerton, the former Asket Hill Primary School, a former Liberal club in new Wortley and the former Gala Bingo site in Seacroft.
Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and the economy, insisted it wasn’t about “off loading” unattractive sites, but about urging developers to see the real potential in untapped land.
“We have a very dysfunctional housing market that doesn’t deliver what people want in terms of need,” he said. “This programme is about saying ‘actually we have got some very good sites that it makes sense to develop because they are brownfield sites and the infrastructure already exists [around them]’.”
“Amongst these sites there will be some that are more attractive than others,” he admitted. “But we have a good portfolio and we want to engage with developers.
“It’s not about off-loading. Some of these are quite attractive sites. Developers do often follow the herd, but it would be useful for some of them to look at these sites”.