DCSIMG

New plans for Leeds city centre mini-park unveiled

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  • by David Marsh
 

New designs for a mini-park in the heart of Leeds have been unveiled after the previous proposals were slated by councillors.

The council intends to spend £2.5m creating the green space as part of plans to transform the former Queens Hall site in Sovereign Street.

The scheme will be the forerunner and complementary to proposals for a major city centre park earmarked for the south bank of the River Aire.

But members of the council’s city plans panel were last month highly critical of the Sovereign Street mini-park plans and urged a rethink.

They complained the scheme had “degenerated into a harsh urban area” and argued an opportunity was being missed to develop a pleasant green area.

Their concerns were summed by Coun David Blackburn (Green, Farnley and Wortley) who said: “If it’s supposed to be a park we want more green stuff.”

Now alternations have been made and the latest proposals were being presented to the panel today, with the recommendation that planning officers be allowed to approve the scheme subject to conditions.

They key changes include more green space in the main square, the raingarden and around the BT building. One of the site’s three building plots would be reduced in size and some footpaths will be narrower.

A report to the panel said there would be an increase in planting so that 67 per cent of the site would be given over to “green soft landscaping.” It concludes that the green space would promote the regeneration of the wider site.

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Leeds Civic Trust has welcomed the scheme has potentially a green space “worthy of the city’s European aspirations.”

It also says the site must be carefully managed. In a letter to the council it said: “If it is intended that it will become part of the city centre public realm maintained by the council, care will need to be taken that this area is not forgotten in the same way as parts of the waterfront are now.”

The park will be the focal point of plans to build three new blocks on the site, with work on the first – a new base for accountancy firm KPMG – expected to start next year.

 

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