YEP Says, July 22: ‘Empty flats capital’? Not so, Mr Hutchinson!

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Leeds was once dogged by fears of an over-supply of city centre accommodation.

Leeds was once dogged by fears of an over-supply of city centre accommodation.

Erroneously dubbed the “empty flats capital of the North”, it ended the property boom on a low, with one London-based architect, Maxwell Hutchinson, declaring that the new apartments would be the “slums of the future”. At one point the situation was considered so parlous that it was suggested social landlords be given the chance to buy unwanted residential property at a discount and put it onto the social letting stock.

But Mr Hutchinson was wrong.

The city centre is a now a star performer and one of the most sought-after locations in Leeds, especially popular with young professionals keen to live close to work and play. The lettings market has gone stratospheric and today we report how Leeds city centre is at the forefront of the country’s young generation city living boom.

The population of our thriving city centre more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, with the number of people aged 20 to 29 living in the middle of Leeds almost trebling during the same period.

Perhaps the age-range isn’t that surprising - there’s an established British route from centre to suburb as age and family life progresses. But why can’t we encourage a broader, more balanced, cross-generational population to our centres as many European cities do?

One for our city planners and developers to ponder over.

Is Northern unity key to power?

The debate as to whether Yorkshire should be led by a Boris Johnson-style mayor has ignited opinions.

Today Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese tells the YEP that shifting powers from Whitehall to Yorkshire will strengthen the whole of the North so it can compete in the global economy.

Can our two cities put traditional rivalries and competition aside if it means a stronger, more powerful North? They surely must. Just don’t expect it to extend to the football clubs.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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