The redevelopment of Leeds’ historic Tetley brewery site and the creation of a new city centre park has been billed as the “biggest application the city centre has seen in decades”.
The YEP spoke exclusively to Andrew Cobden, the managing director of Vastint UK Services, the company behind the exciting South Bank scheme.
Earlier this month, the outline application for the Hunslet Road site, including up to 850 homes, offices, commercial space and up to two hotels, was moved on to the next stage by Leeds City Council.
“I really hope we can be a bit of a catalyst with the application and the council with the way they are dealing with it,” he said.
Vastint, who are actively developing schemes in 13 European countries, worked closely with the council over the last 18 months.
The proposals pave the way for the council’s City Centre Park vision - to create a large green space in the city centre connecting the South Bank.
“We want the park to become part of the city centre,” Mr Cobden said.
“The park has enormous potential.”
Mr Cobden, 45, hinted live outdoor events - such as music concerts - could be held in the park, which will have the Tetley building at the centre.
“It’s well documented that there isn’t an enormous amount of green space in Leeds city centre,” he said.
“We’ve deliberately increased the dimensions of the park so that when you stand in it you feel like you’re not in the city centre.
“We have got a very long list of things that people would like and things that are completely possible for the park. It’s about making the park as flexible as possible.”
He said a driving force of the idea for the park, which sits alongside the council’s vision to expand the city centre, was to have a mix of trees and space for outdoor events.
“The Tetley is the centrepiece of the park,” Mr Cobden said.
“The park will go around the Tetley. Everything to the west will become event space.
“To the south east of Tetley, there will be more mature trees and soft landscape.
“Then towards Bowman Lane there will be more mature trees.
“These three relatively distinct areas will all be linked up by the park.”
Vastint is part of the Interogo Group.
The company is an international real estate organisation that has been operating across Europe for more than 25 years.
But how does Leeds compare to those other European cities?
“If you look at the cities across Europe,” Mr Cobden said. “Leeds is very similar to a lot of cities that we work with.
“Leeds has had a good development pipeline. It has kept pace with demand, and we feel like we are adding to that.”
Vastint already has ongoing development schemes in Cardiff and London.
After first visiting Leeds in 2013 and 2014, he said his head was turned over the possibility of a development.
“I really liked what I saw when I first came to Leeds,” he said.
“It has a real strong retail heart. It’s a compact city with a strong universities and potential for growth.
“When the Carlsberg site [former Tetley brewery] came forward, we said ‘we really have to buy this one in’.
“I thought it was a better opportunity that we can find in almost any other city in the UK.
“It’s very difficult to find this sort of space.”