New £100,000 fund launched to help transform Leeds city centre waterfront

PIC: Gary Longbottom
PIC: Gary Longbottom
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A new fund to help transform the waterfront of Leeds city centre with culture being placed at the heart of its future has been launched.

The Leeds Waterfront Enhancement Fund, put forward by the Leeds Chamber of Commerce and partners earlier this year, was officially established as part of a meeting of the Leeds Property Forum at its meeting at Addleshaw Goddard in Sovereign Square.

The fund aims to help the waterfront area achieve its cultural and economic potential, with Leeds City Council investing £100,000 into the scheme.

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Bids are now open for grants of between £1,000-£10,000 from the fund to support activities that will enhance the waterfront by making it more accessible and attractive. All successful bids will be at least match-funded by the applicant.

The area the fund covers is from Wellington Bridge Street/City Island in the west of the city centre to the Yarn Street development in the east. There will be two waves of funding for successful bids, the first in autumn 2018 and the second in spring 2019.

The scheme forms part of the Waterfront Charter, with landowners and stakeholders along the River Aire through the city centre and South Bank being encouraged to sign up in partnership to work together for the benefit of the waterfront area and city as a whole.

The fund and charter will also support the delivery of the council’s inclusive growth strategy through stimulating economic development. It also has a key role to play in the city’s Cultural Strategy by making the most of public spaces and providing a platform for the 2023 cultural programme in Leeds.

The role of culture is a key element of the fund scheme, supporting local communities and celebrating their diversity, opening up possible venues and assets and rethinking public spaces into attractive and welcoming places where culture can thrive.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “We are delighted to be working with the Leeds Chamber of Commerce and our partners to launch the Leeds Waterfront Enhancement Fund. As part of the Waterfront Charter, it is very much a partnership-led idea, with all stakeholders involved coming together with the local communities for mutual benefit to make it more attractive, welcoming and prosperous.

“With the South Bank regeneration now really making an impact, now is the perfect time to look at what we can do to maximise the cultural potential of the riverside and how it connects with the rest of the city centre. We look forward to welcoming exciting and imaginative bids to be part of this scheme.”

Tim Waring, Director at planning consultants Quod and Chair of the Chamber’s Waterfront Group, said: “The creation of this fund is great recognition of the potential role the waterfront should play in our city. The city’s history and economic success are inextricably linked to the canal and river and we need to ensure it continues to play a strong role in the future. We see this fund helping to make the waterfront a more attractive place to go and by working with Leeds City Council, landowners, office occupiers and local communities we can build partnerships to really move things forward. Congratulations to Leeds City Council in supporting this initiative.”

For more on the Leeds Waterfront Enhancement Fund visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/wef or email: wef@leeds.gov.uk