YEP Says: Building for the future in Leeds city centre - SOYO

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Quarry Hill will not have seen such a huge transformation since the building of the Quarry Hill Flats in the 1930s.

Quarry Hill flats had a radical, modernist design and internal features to match such as solid fuel ranges, electric lighting, a state-of-the-art refuse disposal system, communal spaces and a swimming pool.

Lack of maintenance and social problems meant that 40 years later the flats were demolished.

Now, another forty years on there is the chance to see this area raised up again with the latest plans announced by Caddick Developments.

SOYO will be a new neighbourhood for the city and the blueprint for this ambitious transformation of the area certainly chimes with the aspirations Leeds has as a city.

It is a key gateway to Leeds and not a very pretty one if we’re honest.

Leeds’ council leader Judith Blake says that they will watch the area develop with interest. If her words did not seem exactly a glowing endorsement for SOYO that’s understandable.

Maybe it’s the name? Quarry Hill is, after all, a well-known name and part of the city’s history. Or maybe she has the words of Sir Richard Rogers in her ears.

He was a former Government advisor on urban design who coined the phrase “We are building the slums of tomorrow.” in these days of austerity, with nobody throwing their money around, it is to be hoped standards are much higher and the co-ordinated approach that we see to urban planning should ensure there could not be a repeat of the Quarry Hill flats situation.

Leeds is attracting some serious investment here and we welcome it, but we would all do well not to be blinded by the shiny newness of the scheme and to ask searching questions.

How will this bring jobs to the area and how many? Where will these new residents park, how will they get around the city, where will they work and will they actually live here, rather than buy to let?

Will they be shopping in the market as well as in John Lewis? Will the open spaces remain some green lungs for the city and not become meeting zones for the less desirable elements of society.

It’s all to be discussed. For now, we’re very happy to see this plan come to the table.

Round table event at Bond Dickinson, Whitehall Riverside, Leeds..12th October 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

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