A MAJOR redevelopment masterplan to regenerate large swathes of urban and industrial wasteland in Leeds could be the region’s answer to London’s flagship King’s Cross scheme.
That’s the view of Leeds City Council’s leader Judith Blake, as she today made a renewed pledge to deliver on the city’s South Bank vision.
The sprawling plan has been billed as one of the largest city centre regeneration initiatives in Europe, promising to double the size of Leeds city centre, create 35,000 new jobs and over 4,000 new homes.
However those hopes were delivered a major blow earlier this month when fashion giant Burberry announced it has scrapped its plans to open a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and weaving facility at the Grade I listed Temple Works mill building, which sits at the heart of the regeneration area.
At Leeds Civic Hall yesterday, city development bosses appeared before a cross-party watchdog panel to discuss the implications of Burberry’s decision on the wider South Bank ambitions.
Martin Farrington, director of City Development, told the panel that while Burberry bosses had “not pursued their option” on Temple Works, the firm’s interest was “just one element” of a huge development jigsaw.
“It’s important to recognise that the South Bank is an extensive, long term proposition involving large parts of the city centre south of the River Aire,” he said.
“Temple Mill is one element of that, but it is just one element.”
Mr Farrington added that emerging and future projects will still bring “a huge volume of development opportunity and change and growth in that part of the city in years to come”.
He listed highlights including the Hunslet Mill development, the opening of the Ruth Gorse Academy, the new University Technical College, the proposals by Vastint for the 22 acre Carlsberg site - which will be hitting the plans panel process imminently - and the arrival and impact of HS2.
Yesterday’s meeting also heard that areas very close to the city centre - and thousands of people in deprived communities - are “disconnected” from the main centre. The South Bank vision is designed to reverse that and to create a “legacy” of infrastructure, opportunities and connections to those areas, the panel was told.
Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said the South Bank masterplan, as well as wider plans to promote “inclusive growth” in the city, were a “once in a generation opportunity to do something different”.
And referring to a major 67-acre regeneration project on former industrial wasteland near King’s Cross in London, she said: “I would urge anyone who has ever used King’s Cross station to take the time to walk up the hill and see what they have managed to achieve there.
“That used to be one of the biggest no-go areas in London.
“And one of the reasons they have managed to make it so successful is that right from the start, they have included the communities who live around there.
“[The South Bank masterplan] can’t just be a standalone - an island.
“It’s got to actually make reference to the history of that area. And the communities who live around the edge of it will really need to benefit from all the opportunities that are being created.”