Now can we stop being so fatalistic about Leeds?

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OK, if this is some sort of ruse, some spiteful joke at our expense, then, whoever the prankster is, now is the time to put us out of our misery.

Because not only does it look like the John Lewis store and the Eastgate shopping scheme are nailed on, it also looks like we’re going to get the trolleybus – all this and we’re counting down the months to the opening of the Trinity retail and leisure development and Leeds Arena.

Forgive me, but I can’t help but feel like something, somewhere along the line, has to go wrong. It’s just the way things seem to go in Leeds.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re all wrong. Maybe, in fact, this isn’t the way things go in Leeds at all.

Perhaps a decade of losing key projects like Lumiere and supertram were just the product of bad luck and bad timing. It could even be down to Leeds’s own fatalism – our penchant for muttering constant prophecies of doom which end up being self-fulfilling prophecies.

But despite the doom merchants it looks like we might just be emerging from the recent recession not merely struggling to get back on our feet but taking great strides into the next decade.

Other glimmers of hope are worth noting too. The new plans for Clarence Dock, which really do look like they could revive the ailing project, and proposals to bring the space formerly planned for the Lumiere skyscraper on Wellington Street back into use.

The southern entrance of Leeds Station is also a huge boost, then there is Tower Works in Holbeck, the new train stations being built in Kirkstall and at Apperley Bridge, not to mention the expansion of Leeds/Bradford airport.

And if ASDA really do move to the old Tetley brewery site then it might well pave the way for us getting that long-awaited oasis of green space in the city centre. Plus, the drawn out revamp of the ‘west end’ waterfront of the River Aire is still in the pipeline - and it looks like that will now stretch from one side of the ring road to the other.

What’s important to bear in mind is that, just a couple of years ago, so much of this was presumed dead in the water, or its future was seriously hanging in the balance. There were a string of big schemes which were failing or had yet to make it off the drawing board.

Most of us assumed some of them, if not most of them, would never happen. Predictably, many said none of the above were ever likely to come into being, certainly not in the short to medium term.

Yet here we are two years later and project after project has been given the green light when we thought they’d be stopped in their tracks.

So, perhaps this might be the appropriate juncture to stop and take stock of what we have and, crucially, what we’re getting. Now might be a good time to stop being so fatalistic, stop making any kind of prophecies and just hope for the best rather than continually prepare for the worst.

That’s important, because, while we have so much, there’s a good deal more we need to get in Leeds. Unless we change our approach to change then we’ll just stand still again.

And I’m convinced that when the arena and Trinity opens we’ll be reminded of the benefits of change and why we have much to look forward to. Unless, of course, this batch of good news is, one big joke after all. But I doubt it.

BE CURIOUS: One of the events at a previous Be Curious festival.

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