Leeds City Square 'will always be called City Square' despite revamp, council chiefs assure public

Leeds City Square “will always be called City Square”, senior Leeds decision-makers insisted at a meeting this week.

Following a design competition, an architectural firm has been selected to produce plans to revamp the popular public space into a larger pedestrianised area which could cost up to £9.5m overall.

Early blueprints for the design, which Leeds-based firm Re-form dubbed ‘The Glade’ were published earlier this month, and would include woodland and water features, with the entire area between the Queens Hotel and Mill Hill Chapel closed to general traffic.

However, a senior opposition councillor expressed concerns at the possible re-naming of the site, as well as for the future of the square’s statues, which appeared not to be included in the new artist’s impressions.

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An artist's impression of the plans for city square

Introducing the plans, Coun Helen Hayden told a meeting of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board that the designs were simply indicative, and a much wider public consultation would be carried out to work out the best plans for the site.

Conservative group leader Coun Andrew Carter responded: “You decided to put the winner of the competition firmly back in their box and tell them it’s indicative. Presumably they can stop referring to City Square as “The Glade” unless they want a revolution on their hands.

“City Square throughout my lifetime, and long before that, has been called City Square, and I hope it will be for a long time to come. We can take it from that there is no plan underlining this to remove the statues, the Black Prince or anything else?”

He then implied Coun Hayden had reassured him that this would not happen, adding: “If that is the case, I am prepared to leave it until we can comment in detail.”

Leeds City Council leader Coun James Lewis (Lab) added: “I used to catch my bus from City Square, and it has always been known as City Square to many of us here.”

Architects were invited to take part in a competition to redesign Leeds City Square using a building budget of £3.5m. The winner is a submission from Leeds-based Re-form Landscape

Architecture whose design, dubbed “The Glade”, is set to feature a “conceptual reincarnation” of the ancient Forest of Leodis on which the city is built.

A council report into the plans claims the site would offer “informal play” for children, with platforms and rock steps to climb and jump off, as well as a water feature.

Coun Hayden summed up: “It will always be City Square – as long as I’m involved it will be City Square.

“It is exciting having people bringing new ideas – it was a good idea to have a competition. We need to get this right – it is a gateway to the city, it is our flagship area. You get off the train, you come into city square – I want it to be phenomenal – it would be nice to have, walking out of the railway station into this amazing public realm.

“We need to speak to the people of Leeds – I don’t think it will be called the Glade – that is more of a concept. What was powerful about this submission to the competition.”

City Square was first built in 1897, alongside the old Post Office building.

The entire scheme for the revamp is expected to have a total budget of £7m-£9.5m, and it is hoped that final designs and approval can be reached by May/June 2022.