The firm which created a flagship London housing development in the former 2012 Olympics athletes’ village has now unveiled a major new homes vision for a key waterside site in Leeds city centre.
Get Living has revealed its plans to invest up to £180m in 756 ‘build to rent’ homes on prime land in Globe Road alongside the Doncaster Monk Bridge.
The sprawling development would sit within a five-acre site in the emerging South Bank district of Leeds.
It would also be just yards from the continuing Wellington Place development, as well as a new Government HQ - expected to open in 2020 - which has already been dubbed the ‘Whitehall of the North’, and will be the base for 6,000 civil servants.
And the developers of the Globe Road site have made it clear they are pitching the new flats primarily at those very workers, and at Leeds’s booming millennial renting market.
Rick de Blaby, the company’s executive deputy chairman, told the YEP: “Leeds is clearly fulfilling its wider vision and ambition at many levels, the manifestations of which are most visible in the central business district.
“We are looking to create a development with a difference that will benefit the city for the long-term by catering to the wide range of people who want to live and work in the area.
“This area to the south of the River Aire and the canal could be totally transformed.”
Mr de Blaby, who previously worked for Wellington Place developer MEPC and was one of the masterminds behind that scheme, explained his latest project would also feature a “co-working hub” for tech businesses and start-ups, as well as landscaped green spaces.
And he said the firm is also working with the Canal and River Trust to discuss opening up access to the canal.
He added: “We commit to our neighbourhoods for the long-term, building vibrant, safe and well-managed places to live.
“More than 3,000 people now rent from us in East Village and, since we launched in 2013, we’ve helped foster a strong sense of community. We are committed to bringing this neighbourhood-focused approach to Leeds and playing a part in the future prosperity of the city.”
The Globe Road site already had planning permission, but that has now lapsed. Get Living bought the site last summer. It intends to submit a planning application in July, with hopes of work starting in 2019 and finishing before the Government hub is fully operational..
As well as its interests at the former London 2012 athletes’ village - now known as East Village - the company has also submitted plans for a £200m, 727-home development in Glasgow city centre.
VISION WILL PUT MILLENNIALS AND CIVIL SERVANTS AT HEART OF CITY’S ‘SOUTH BANK’ BOOM DISTRICT
The Whitehall Road area is a big piece of a huge development jigsaw for Leeds’s South Bank plans, a vision which aims to double the size of the city centre.
Also vital to the overall masterplan are the Leeds Station expansion and possible HS2 hub, and the Tower Works and Tetley sites.
The initial Get Living blueprint will be presented to Leeds Council’s City Plans Panel for the first time this week. The site itself - which fronts onto Whitehall Road, the railway line and viaduct, and Globe Road and the canal to the north, has had a chequered history, with previous attempts at development never coming to fruition.
The Get Living plans include eight separate tower blocks, the tallest being 23 storeys high, and a mix of mostly one and two bedroom apartments to be offered at “open market rentals lower than most”.
Rick de Blaby, who was chief executive of MPEC when the Wellington Place project was in planning stages - he calls the scheme his “baby” - said that with the imminent arrival of the Government Hub, the company is “very mindful” of trying to complete in time to offer flats to some of those civil servants. He added the firm’s other projects rent out homes to a “predominantly millennial audience”.
And of the wider ambitions for Leeds, he said : “We want to become a part of the fabric of the community. I think there’s a real opportunity to open up the whole of Globe Road and expose the canal, with a couple of boardwalks and balconies. It will totally transform the area and make it much more open.”
Mr de Blaby explained he has a “real affinity” for Leeds, having played a part in its recovery “in the dark days post crash in 2008”.
A report being presented to Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel on Thursday as part of a pre-application dossier, says: “This scheme is a significant regeneration opportunity on a brownfield site. It would bring with it a large number of new homes and opportunities for employment.”