Demolishing old Yorkshire Bank HQ for new Leeds conference centre would ‘fulfil aspiration’ for the city

Leeds planning officers have backed the proposed demolition of the city’s old Yorkshire Bank headquarters, paving the way for a conference centre to be built in its place.

Friday, 5th August 2022, 11:32 am

A final decision on the plans, which would also result in two new blocks of student accommodation being put up, is due to be made by councillors.

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But the council’s planning team has said building a conference centre would fulfil a “long-term aspiration” for Leeds and complement the First Direct Arena, which stands on land next to the proposed site in Clay Pit Lane.

The building will be demolished to make way for a conference centre and student flats if councillors sign off on the proposals.

They have endorsed the application and suggested it be approved when the council’s city plans panel meets on August 11.

A report due to be discussed at the meeting said: “Leeds currently has no standalone dedicated exhibition space both for business-to-business and business-to-client conferences and exhibitions.

“The provision of a multi-purpose events building, able to accommodate conferencing facilities, has been a long-term aspiration of the council.”

It added: “The proposed student accommodation would help to extend the supply of student accommodation in a sustainable and accessible location and its development would provide opportunities for local employment during the demolition, construction and subsequent operation of the buildings.”

The Yorkshire Bank headquarters were built in 1977 but the property is no longer in use after a reorganisation by the bank. It has since been sold to developers Downing Property Services.

Under the scheme, they would build the student accommodation, while the council would be responsible for constructing the events space.

The report said that while Leeds Civic Trust supports the proposals for a conference centre on the site, they are “unconvinced that the use of the Yorkshire Bank site for more student accommodation is warranted”.

Another issue that has been raised is the potential impact on Harrogate, which picks up plenty of income from the conferencing sector.

However, the report said that while Harrogate had historically been “heavily reliant” on the trade, the building of an events space in Leeds would only slightly dent such activity in the town.

It added: “It is concluded that the building would divert zero to one per per cent of trade away from Harrogate town centre and between one to six per cent of trade from Harrogate Convention Centre, neither of which are considered unacceptably adverse impacts.”