Leeds high street ‘blight’ could be forcibly bought by council

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A LARGE CHUNK of a Leeds village high street - owned by a reclusive millionaire - could be forcibly bought by council bosses as they bid to breathe new life into the area’s economy.

Leeds City Council regeneration bosses say they have been trying for a decade to engage with the unnamed owner of the Grade II listed building and land at 25-37 Kippax High Street.

Kippax was one of 16 Leeds district centres earmarked for a major regeneration scheme in 2005. Around £230,000 has already been pumped into improving shop fronts in the east Leeds village. However failure to get access to the building, as well as some attached land, has hampered progress. The crumbling building has even been put on a hitlist of eyesores. However enforcement action to get it fixed up and made safe has also been fruitless.

Coun Keith Wakefield, Labour ward councillor for Kippax, said the main building was a “blight” in the High Street

“Sadly it belongs to an individual who needs help but no-one can talk to him,” he said. “He is a millionaire but he is a recluse. He owns a lot of the land around there. It’s a very sensitive one and we have been working on this for over 10 years without any progress, but we have identified a way to get through it all.”

A newly approved report says there is “potential for the use of Compulsory Purchase powers” to buy the land, however attempts to contact the owner will also continue. The report also acknowledges the “challenges” facing town and village shopping centres since the growth of Internet and out-of-town shopping.

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