Is this the most radical development in Leeds for a decade?

MASTERPLAN: This is what Wellington Place should look like by 2024.
MASTERPLAN: This is what Wellington Place should look like by 2024.

It is possibly the most radical and game-changing development Leeds has seen for decades - and it’s not even half way through.

Your YEP can reveal the next plans for the 20 plus acre site at Wellington Place following an exclusive interview with Paul Pavia, head of development at MEPC.

Work is currently underway on what has been “the gamechanger” in a project that started back in 2008.

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The Government has chosen Wellington Place as the location for its new regional government hub in Yorkshire in a deal that saw the biggest ever office pre-let on record in Leeds.

Buildings 7 and 8 are due to be handed over in 2020 but in the background work is still being done on planning applications, tenancy deals and the like for another six, possibly seven, buildings.

Mr Pavia said: “People think ‘look at what has been done’ but it is not even half complete. By 2019 we will have built on 900,000 square feet within five years.

“That is mad and I don’t think anybody else will have done that. This is a once in a career opportunity to work on.”

He also revealed those buildings are likely to be offices rather than residential, as originally planned, in a decision split by market demand and other developments coming forward on the back of the Wellington Place progression.

“We are a force for good in Leeds, we concentrate on what we do but have dialogue and look at what’s going on outside the boundaries.

“The demand is there for offices. We did have plans for residential by the river and I am not saying we won’t do that but feel if we did, it might delay the Monk Bridge and Gelderd Road schemes coming forward.”

Wellington Place, transforming what was industrial units and before that Leeds Wellington station, has without doubt pushed the boundary of the city centre and created a more natural link to Holbeck which is enjoying a renaissance. Coincidence?

But the vision for the development was not just to build blocks of offices or apartments but to add amenities that enrich the lives of people living and working in and around Wellington Place.

Think L1 gym, Sociable Folk and The Good Luck Club cafes and bars, Marks and Spencer, a cash machine, a bike hub and child care with similar outlets planned for the next wave of building.

Outdoor space has been created to get people away from desks and several fitness classes and wellbeing sessions are offered on site.

Mr Pavia said: “We want to make it so people don’t go anywhere else. If we provide everything people want within our location, under one management that will be for the benefit of the community and our customers.

“We are like the parish council of Wellington Place. It is a very privileged position to be in.”

It comes more than 10 years after MEPC first took over the site back in 2006.

Planning consent was granted in 2008 but it took five years to get it off the ground following the financial crisis. Mr Pavia added: “What we always knew was that the scheme was able to offer something that Leeds did not have. That was always clear, it was just a case of getting to a position where people could see what it was about and we have achieved that.”