Green light for £75m Leeds city centre arts hub that will ‘reverse the creative brain drain’

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A BRAND new £75m arts hub will be a “remarkable” addition to Leeds’s cultural landscape –and will help stop a brain drain of some of the city’s brightest creative minds.

That’s the hope from planning chiefs, who last night gave the 
green-light for the 14,500 sq m Leeds Beckett University development, which will be the headquarters for the film, music, performing arts and fashion departments.

The building – on the corner of Calverley Street and Portland Way, and directly opposite Leeds Civic Hall –will be home to nearly 2,000 
students and staff, who are 
currently spread across 
various separate locations in the city.

Members of Leeds Council’s City Plans Panel yesterday gave unanimous approval to the scheme, which has been in the planning for a decade.

Councillor Asghar Khan said: “It’s going to be a remarkable building.” Colleague Graham Latty added it “will complement and finish off this area”.

The meeting was told that the building was the “final part of the masterplan” for a major redevelopment of the university, and aims to “deliver world-class facilities in a gateway location”.

Councillor Al Garthwaite said she would like to see the building contributing to wider cultural projects in the city, adding that it should also encourage graduates not to move away when they have completed their studies.

Chair of the panel James McKenna said the council’s new neighbour would be a “fantastic facility for the city and its students”.

Andrew Fryer, Dean of the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett, said: “The Creative Arts building will provide a home for the creative performing arts with spaces full of character that draw on Leeds Beckett University’s heritage for diverse learning skills opportunities. We want this to be a place to meet, drop by or simply visit because it’s just a great place to be.”

Professor Peter Slee, vice chancellor, added the building would “provide a new city marker” and “creative focus” for students”, as well as being “a hub for our cultural and industry partnerships across the city”.

Work will begin at the end of the year, with completion estimated in 2020.

A British Rail Class 155 diesel multiple unit (DMU) at Leeds station. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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