As many as 47,000 high quality jobs could be created in Leeds by 2030 if the city is given appropriate investment in areas such as transport and skills, experts have claimed.
Leading developer CEG commissioned a study into Leeds’s economic potential by experts from Cambridge Economic Associates and Cambridge Econometrics.
The study was launched at a roundtable event at The Yorkshire Post which was attended by political, academic and commercial leaders from around Leeds.
Jon Kenny, development director at CEG, said that to realise the ambition, Leeds may wish to consider being the first city in the world to invest in transport infrastructure based around driverless technology.
He said: “Do we want to be the last city in Europe to adopt fixed infrastructure for transit schemes or do we want to be the first city in Europe to start looking at and implementing digitally-based schemes? We believe we have got the foundations here to make something very exciting.”
He continued: “I think increasingly we need transportation options that create much more flexibility on an on demand basis.
“Our goal is make sure this city fulfils that potential. If we are going to create 7.5m sq ft of office space to accommodate this growth there is really only one place where that requirement is going to be met and that is in the South Bank.
“That has to be about looking at research about where we are going to be in the future and by the time we execute an infrastructure scheme could find it is already out of date. We need to be thinking about what is globally leading instead of mechanics that are 100 years old. You just need to look at what is happening with driverless technology and the way that digital technology is going. You look at what is happening with driverless cars and you can start seeing that moving into driverless passenger transit.
“There is an opportunity in investing in and researching about how do you would do that on mass scale in a metropolitan city. It would be the first in the world to achieve it.”
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This report is really helping us get our message out there about how extraordinary Leeds is and how up there we are in terms of innovation.
“We must really make sure we focus on our strengths without being complacent in anyway shape or form.”