New £85m office development given go-ahead and cited as a sign of city's COVID recovery

An £85m major office development in Leeds city centre has been given the go-ahead.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 6:00 am

Leeds City Council said the "forward thinking scheme" would show how the city is ready to bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

City Square House will stand on the Wellington Street side of City Square, near Leeds City Station and the recently-revamped Majestic building.

Global law firm DLA Piper has signed a deal with developer MRP to take more than 80,000 sq ft of prime office space in the 12-storey development. Leading UK design and build contractor McAleer & Rushe will begin building works in May of this year.

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Computer generated images show what the new £85m development will look like in City Square.

And, in an example of how the pandemic is influencing even buildings into the future, key design features are a clever blend of technology, open plan design and roof

gardens.

Coun Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council, said: "City Square is already at the heart of life in Leeds and we are determined to improve it still further, creating a world-class space that is a source of pride for all our residents.

“The new development will help us achieve that aim and I look forward to seeing it take shape alongside the many other transformative projects planned for the city centre.

The new building will sit alongside The Majestic which has recently been completed.

“It also offers a timely reminder that Leeds is very much open for business, despite the huge challenges posed by COVID-19. Schemes like City Square House will form part of a Leeds-wide effort to ensure our economy recovers from the pandemic in a way that leaves no one behind.”

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A competition was launched in September to find an expert design team that will help oversee the wider transformation of City Square, delivering a vibrant and inclusive welcome to the city - which reflects the council’s climate challenges and cultural ambitions.

Angus Monteith, property director at MRP predicts the deal will act as a catalyst for future investment in the city.

It is said that last night's announcement follows a sustained period of active work by the council with the legal sector that has seen cost-effectiveness, connectivity and a track record of innovation make Leeds the UK centre of excellence for legal services outside of London.

More than 1,500 legal companies are based in the city, including over a quarter of the UK’s top 100 law firms, and the sector is a major employer, with more than 14,400 jobs and adding around £1bn to the Leeds economy.

It also marks the start of a new chapter for DLA Piper, among the largest law firms in the world and one that can trace its story back 250 years to the establishment of a founding office in Leeds.

Andrew Dyson, Leeds office managing partner at DLA Piper, said: “Leeds is an integral part of DLA Piper and our move to City Square House reflects our long-term commitment to the city. We currently operate across two sites in Leeds, but with the move we will be able to bring our people under one roof and provide many more opportunities to collaborate.

“The new office will be a state-of-the-art working environment for our great people and a significant asset as we continue to attract the very best talent into the region. This is an exciting opportunity for us to design a sustainable office fit for the way our people and our clients will work together in the future. In light of the pandemic this never feels more relevant or important.”

Around 600 of the law firm’s staff are due to move into the new building in 2024 following a fit-out that will create best-in-class workspace with large flexible floorplates of just over 15,000 sq ft, upper level terraces and a double height reception area. Exterior glazing complement the classical façade of the neighbouring Majestic, where nearly three years of redevelopment work has been carried out and completed by Leeds-based Rushbond Group.

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