£350m masterplan for Leeds's '˜declining' Holbeck moves closer

An ambitious masterplan to redevelop a former industrial heartland of Leeds is set to go ahead '“ sealing a decades-long vision for the 'declining' area.

Councillors yesterday approved CEG’s sprawling plans for the Globe Road part of Holbeck, to the south of the city centre, subject to certain conditions.

The £350m proposals for up to 750 homes, potential skyscraper offices between five and 40 storeys high, as well as leisure and retail plots, would form part of the South Bank – hailed by Leeds City Council as one of the largest redevelopments in Europe – and could provide space for an estimated 10,000 to live, work and visit.

Coun James McKenna, chairman of the City Plans Panel, said that ideas for the so-called Holbeck Urban Village first began in the early 1990s and he urged the developers to “please build it”.

The “phased” regeneration is due to include five separate development “parcels” called Globe Point, Globe Square, Globe Arches, Globe Waterside and Beck Court.

Detailed plans for two offices between Globe Road and Water Lane were approved by members. Outline proposals for a mixed-use development of up to 103,900 sqm of offices, retail, leisure, hotel, health, education and community uses, parking and up to 750 new homes, along with new public spaces and landscaping, were also deferred to the council’s chief planning officer, Tim Hill, to agree fully.

A series of pedestrian routes created through the site would be supplemented by four new footbridges over the Hol Beck, five new pedestrian crossings and the narrowing of both Globe Road and Water Lane, the latter becoming one-way.

It would also involve the demolition of existing buildings and structures except a listed bridge crossing Hol Beck and the main part of a former print works.

A council report prepared for the panel members stated: “The area has been in decline for many years and a series of unrelated schemes have not come to fruition.”

Labour’s Coun McKenna told the meeting the plan is “a rather big piece of the jigsaw” in the regeneration of Holbeck.

He said: “I think it’s a magnificent scheme.

“You don’t always get the opportunity to thank developers. Please build it, please get on with it – it’s been a vision for a long, long time.”

CEG is working on designs for the site with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the architects behind Leeds’s imposing Broadcasting Place, which won the International Tall Building of the Year Award in 2010.

CEG is also responsible for the £400m Kirkstall Forge site, which has so far brought a new railway station and modern office building to the city.

And the company has previously acquired the crumbling Temple Works – a Grade I-listed former flax mill in Holbeck famed for once having what is said to have been the world’s biggest room. It is understood the firm bought that building for just £1 after fashion brand Burberry backed out of its own planned refurbishment of the site.

During the meeting, CEG’s development director Jonathan Kenny reiterated the company’s commitment to the city.

He said: “This isn’t the beginning of the end of us in Leeds – it’s the beginning of the beginning.”

Members of the panel expressed concern about some aspects of CEG’s proposals for Leeds’s South Bank.

Coun Peter Gruen, for Labour questioned whether the public transport network in the Holbeck area was good enough to accommodate the proposals and unconnected applications for nearby sites.

And Liberal Democrat Coun Colin Campbell asked why plans for the outline applications – which are later subject to separate full approval – were so detailed. In reply, Mr Kenny said: “It was to set out how we thought this whole area could have been masterplanned, connected and brought forward in a way that could address some of the long-standing issues that have blighted this area.”