Exclusive: First look at proposed new multi-storey college campus building in heart of Leeds city centre

Striking proposals for a brand new multi-storey college campus in Leeds city centre's booming cultural quarter have been presented to a decision-making council panel for the first time.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th July 2016, 8:15 am
Updated Friday, 29th July 2016, 9:19 am

Leeds City College wants to build a further education hub up to 11 storeys high in the Quarry Hill area of the city opposite the new Victoria Gate retail development, and next to West Yorkshire Playhouse.

It will form part of a wider masterplan for the site, which is being billed as a growing cultural and educational quarter for the city.

Outline permission has already been granted by Leeds City Council for a sprawling £150million office, residential, retail and leisure development.

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After the initial college campus plans were unveiled on July 28, with broad approval from the City Plans Panel, a full planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of the year.

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Work could start immediately after that, and the building could be in operation for the 2018 academic year.

It would be the college’s second major new city centre site, to add to its new Hunslet Road Printworks development.

Councillors at Leeds Civic Hall earlier today were generally supportive of the scheme.

Chair of the panel Jim McKenna said Quarry Hill, and the wider development vision attached to it, was the “perfect” site for a new college campus.

Councillor Graham Latty said he was “quite taken” by the design, especially a proposed “plinth” foundation that he said “gives it some stature.”

“Generally speaking if you can build something like that, I’d be quite happy,” he told representatives from Leeds City College.

Coun Neil Walshaw praised the use of LED lights which will light up the building in different colours at night, something he said reflected the building’s raison d’etre as “an educational establishment for lots of bright young things”.

There was some concern from councillor Peter Gruen, who urged the developers to pay attention to “connectivity” between the buildings on the site, which will eventually include various cultural, educational and commercial buildings both new and existing.

He also noted that the building design as it stands has no “soft edges”, joking that it was a statement of “testosterone laden masculinity”.

Councillor Al Garthwaite agreed that it “looks rather stark and harsh”, adding that she “would like more curves and rounded surfaces, as well as trees, flowers and landscaping”

A report presented to the panel meeting said the college has an “ultimate goal” to have two major new campus sites in Leeds city centre.

The Quarry Hill project will be “a purpose built campus in the heart of what the college considers to be an education/cultural area”, the report added.

The scheme will be funded in part with backing from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Building will be in two phases, with the first phase housing creative arts, health and caring along with a new facility for Leeds College of Music. Phase two will be the college’s Higher Education and Further Education faculties.

The college currently has four campus sites in Leeds and one in Keighley.