Forget Chapel Allerton - Cross Gates is the new place people want to be
An influx of new bars featuring on the to do lists of foodies and cocktail lovers, a shopping mall, award-winning butcher delis and a booming housing market.
This sounds like a tick box check list of the demands of city millennials clamouring to move to north Leeds for the trendy lifestyle that has so long been its number one selling point.
This, however, is a scene in east Leeds that has been in the making for the last couple of years and the COVID pandemic has done nothing to slow down the demand for people wanting to settle in Cross Gates
And even better than that - it comes without the hefty price tag, but not for long.
Estate agents are reporting that house prices in Cross Gates have risen by ten per cent in the last year and properties coming up now are finding themselves at the heart of a bidding war, with some generating as many as 12 offers per house.
James Barrett at Your Move on Austhorpe Road told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Even more so in the last year, the housing market around here is as strong as we could have hoped - for every type of property in every sector."
Even first time buyers are stretching up to £300,000 and £400,000 houses. In the main though, a much more reasonable £150,000 will get you a modern two-bedroomed townhouse or a good standard, three bedroomed ex local-authority semi-detached house.
New build developments in Cross Gates are thriving too. The Avant development near the Barnbow site is made up of three and four bedroomed detached family homes while Bellway Homes' Limes Development has really captured the imagination by naming its streets and cul-de-sacs after women who died in the Barnbow munitions explosion in 1916. Further developments are in the pipeline with several thousand homes planned for east Leeds over the coming years.
So, what attracts people to Cross Gates as a place to live and build a home and a family?
A thriving high street helps and there appears to be enough to give the community what it needs - a bank, train station, several community groups, an Ofsted rated 'good' primary school, post office, park, florist, jewellers, beauty parlours, barbers, fish and chip shop, one of the most popular butchers across the whole of Leeds and an influx of new bars and restaurants - notably The Assembly and a revamped Padrinos.
Crossgates Shopping Centre was the first American style covered mall to open in the UK back in 1967, down the road, The Springs retail and leisure park is part of a wider 275 acre mixed-use development, including a 800,000 sq ft business park with more than 60 businesses and 4,500 jobs, 140 acres of parkland and public realm and 300 homes due for construction.
That said, the area is not without issues. Anti-social behaviour is on the list as is the number of closed units in the shopping centre. Flagship stores such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer moved out a few years ago - M&S in favour of The Springs site. Some popular shops have been taken over and converted to flats, the bakery being one and free and accessible car-parking is also a bug-bear for many shopping and working on Austhorpe Road.
Coun Peter Gruen said: "Like anywhere else, there have been spells of anti-social behaviour. A lot of that is being in lockdown, nowhere to go and nothing to do. Youth services have not been able to operate as much as they did but there are lots of things going on. Apart from anti-social behaviour, the biggest problems are people wanting social housing. The council waiting lists are just enormous."
John Green of Wilson's Butchers said the high street years ago was in a better position than it is now and lack of free and nearby car parking was pushing shoppers to places like Tesco at Seacroft or The Springs.
But, he added, the bars and restaurants that are opening reflect a confidence in Cross Gates.
He said: "We have been here for 36 years. When we came it was a thriving area and there were some big businesses down the road giving good pensions and good jobs. Things have changed over the years. Tesco was a big loss and it would be nice to have a big supermarket.
"We have worked bloody hard and put a lot of hours in but Cross Gates has been good to us and we would like to think we have been a big part of Cross Gates. We have served ladies and then their children and now serving their children. We have seen three generations which makes me feel old.
"Cross Gates is having a resurgence and people are spending a lot of time here. There is a lot of talk about Chapel Allerton and people compare the two. Cross Gates is a popular spot, it always has its detractors and people talk about the good old days and how it used to be, but, life is different and it like a phoenix rising from the ashes."