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Leeds: Train station bid is back on track after rescue plea

What the proposed Kirkstall Forge Station could look like.

What the proposed Kirkstall Forge Station could look like.

Senior councillors in Leeds have agreed a multi-million pound loan to developers to kick-start a stalled regeneration scheme.

The loan, agreed in principle by the council’s executive board, will be used to help pay for a train station at Kirkstall Forge.

The station is a key element of one of the biggest regeneration schemes planned in the city.

It includes over 1,000 homes, 300,000 sq ft of offices, will create 300 construction jobs and a further 1,800 direct jobs once complete and will lever in about £350m of private sector investment.

It will bring extra council tax and business rates money to Leeds and a new homes bonus of between £5m and £6m over six years.

The site was bought by GMV Twelve Ltd. in 2003 and the scheme is to be undertaken by their agent, Commercial Estates Group (CEG).

CEG had anticipated funds generated by the rest of the development would help it meet its share of the station costs.

But with progress delayed because of the recession, the developer has turned to the council for help.

Although the exact size of the loan has not been revealed, the YEP understands the figure is about £5m.

Council officers will now thrash out an agreement over the terms of the loan and report back to the executive board.

Coun John Procter (Con, Wetherby) said: “It is of the upmost concern that the council should be used as the lender of the last resort,” while Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added: “In principle I would support the loan subject to adequate security.”

Coun Richard Lewis, the council’s executive member for development, said: “We are aware this is a big ask but there are huge rewards in it for the council and the city.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who has campaigning for the new development and station, said: “I’m pleased to see the council and developers working constructively together towards the development of this crucial scheme.”

 

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