Playing the regeneration game isn’t always easy – but it helps if you’re not starting from scratch.
The vision for the vibrant future of Leeds’s South Bank includes the delivery of more than 4,000 new homes.
But today, on the fourth day of a special Yorkshire Evening Post week-long focus on the South Bank regeneration proposals, civic leaders were keen to stress that significant progress has already been made on turning the area into a thriving residential community.
More than 6,000 people are currently estimated to be living at South Bank developments such as Granary Wharf, Brewery Wharf, Leeds Dock and Bridgewater Place.
And they should soon be joined by hundreds of new neighbours thanks to a series of flagship schemes that have been given the green light by planners over the last 18 months or so. Those schemes include:
* A modern, low carbon district of more than 500 homes – including apartments and energy efficient timber frame houses – that is being built by developer Citu on both sides of the River Aire between Leeds Dock and South Accommodation Road in Hunslet;
* The building of nearly 750 homes on a 4.7-acre Sweet Street site in Holbeck under plans drawn up by the Dandara company;
* Construction firm Carillion’s residential, office and leisure development at Holbeck’s Tower Works, a former factory which dates back to the 1860s and is famed for its Italianate towers.
Gareth Jackson, development director at Carillion, said: “Housing is an important element of regeneration projects which aim to create lasting and sustainable communities where people will live, work and enjoy their leisure time.
“Our commitment to Tower Works underlines our belief that Holbeck will become a vibrant part of the South Bank development in Leeds.”
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake told the YEP: “Getting the housing mix and quality right will be an essential part of the South Bank as it develops, as it needs to complement but also offer variety to the current housing in the city centre.
“So having an attractive range of housing options and especially housing for families is something we want to see in the South Bank, in keeping with the ethos of living there, learning there, working there and relaxing there.”
Covering the equivalent of 250 football pitches, the South Bank stretches along the southern side of the Aire from Holbeck to Leeds Dock.
Council bosses are aiming to transform the area into a distinctive yet still integrated community that will effectively double the size of the city centre and create more than 35,000 jobs.
Around 1,000 new South Bank homes are also being proposed on the 22-acre site in Hunslet formerly occupied by Tetley Brewery.
Other projects include a planning-approved £55m riverside scheme at Granary Wharf from developer CTP that will provide 250 new homes as well as office space, bars, cafés and restaurants.
CTP chief executive David Topham has hailed the South Bank as “one of the most dynamic parts of Leeds” and pledged that the scheme will meet the “high standards” already set in the area.
Meanwhile, there could be major changes to the road network in the city centre as part of the South Bank regeneration plans, which include redeveloping Leeds City Station into a transport hub capable of handling HS2 high-speed rail services.
Proposals set out in a 120-page Leeds City Council framework document about the South Bank include the closure of Neville Street to general traffic.
The council is also considering turning Neville Street and the Dark Arches into what it describes as a “shared concourse area and space for leisure/retail for train passengers”.
Other possible changes include closing City Square to general traffic by severing the existing city loop and extending the inner ring road to the M621 between junctions 2 and 4.
The framework document also describes the proposed transformation of access and lane layout on Great Wilson Street, Meadow Lane and Victoria Road, which are all near Asda House, as “paramount to the success of the area around the HS2 station”.
Completed transport schemes on the South Bank include the recently-opened £20m southern entrance to the station.
Coun Blake said: “A lot of the anticipation around the enormous potential of the South Bank is because of the transformative effect we know changes in transport will have on the area.
“The new southern entrance at Leeds Station is already having an impact in terms of opening up the South Bank to people every day, and that is just a taster of what will happen when the station is remodelled into a modern, attractive, fully integrated transport hub welcoming high-speed rail, regional and local services with 60 million passengers a year accessing a gateway to the city recognised nationally and around the world.
“Being directly on the station doorstep, the South Bank is in the perfect position to benefit from the massive changes to the station and its surroundings which are coming.”