Aisha Iqbal: Is it time for Leeds to truly show towering ambition?

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How much does a city’s success depend on the height of its buildings - and the shape of its skyline?

Well, let’s think about some of the most famous skylines in the world, London, New York, Chicago, Singapore.

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Would these sprawling metropoles have the same success and world leading status without their skyscrapers and unique, unmistakable skylines?

It certainly has to be a factor, but maybe there’s a bit of chicken and egg about the whole thing.

Over the last few years, I’ve followed the number of applications for high rises in Leeds with interest.

They are getting more frequent, and there has been a particular proliferation of student friendly supertowers.

Click here for details of the latest of these, plans for a 36-storey building in the city centre Arena Quarter.

An early design for the building won almost universal praise from a plans panel yesterday, and words like ‘iconic’ and ‘legacy’ kept cropping up again and again.

There’s definitely something about big, bold, fantastically designed buildings that makes them a useful yardstick to measure the ambition and scope of a city. And it certainly seems to get planning panels going.

Leeds already has Bridgewater Place, Candle House and Broadcasting House - but a Gherkin or Shard or even a Burj Khalifa would take us to another level, in every sense.

But in amongst all this, we must be careful not to overstretch ourselves.

Cities aren’t defined - really - by concrete and mortar and how we choose to put it together.

They are about the people who live in them.

So, as we reach for the skies, let’s not forget to look after the people on the ground.