Council bosses have pledged to do all they can to secure the £50million investment of Burberry in Holbeck – even if it means buying land through compulsory purchase orders.
At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board councillors stated a need for a “collective vision” for the South Bank after the global fashion brand announced plans to bring its trench coat manufacturing plant and 1,000 jobs to Temple Works last week.
It follows a series of high profile purchases south of the River Aire, including Ikea’s property arm Vastint buying the Tetley Brewery site and the Commercial Estates Group buying prime sites in Holbeck Urban Village.
Factoring in schemes competing to be at the centre of the revival, including the proposed HS2 rail station, appears now to be top of the agenda.
Martin Farrington, director of city development, welcomed Burberry’s interest but said that it has created some “land assembly issues”, highlighting the potential for the council to make use of “compulsory purchase order” powers if Burberry fails to secure land privately.
He added: “It gives us the opportunity to refurbish Temple Works. It is a significant risk and the viability of bringing that into use is extremely challenging so Burberry’s interest is welcome extremely welcome.”
Council chief executive Tom Riordan stressed the need for a “collective vision”, while leader Coun Judith Blake said: “It gives us work to do in terms of putting together a package to make this go as smoothly as possible.”
Earlier this month city surveyor Robert Austin criticised the council’s move to back Burberry’s factory development as throwing “long held plans” for residential development in the area “on the scrapheap”.
Executive member for regeneration Coun Richard Lewis explained at Wednesday’s meeting that seeing housing built had been an aspiration but that Burberry changed matters.
He said: “This was too good to question in any way but that ambition still stands about how we change this area in terms of people living there.”
Burberry hopes to start building next year and complete, replacing sites in Castleford and Cross Hills, by 2019.