New Briggate: Heritage takes centre stage in rebirth of historic Leeds street

A new era for a historic Leeds city centre street is dawning thanks to a package of investment aimed at helping ensure its future is every bit as bright as its past.

New Briggate is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance thanks to co-ordinated investments designed to make the character-filled and culturally-rich area even better for visitors, residents and businesses.

A new-traffic free space has now been created through the pedestrianisation of the lower end of New Briggate which features new trees, benches, and a significant increase in outdoor ‘street café’ seating and the introduction of a new street-food trading pitch.

Picnic benches have also been put in place for the summer outside St John’s Church while a children’s play area is due to be installed this month in neighbouring Merrion Gardens.

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New Briggate: Culturally-rich corner of Leeds city centre in focus

A further milestone is being reached this week with the opening of Kino, Opera North’s new 100-seater restaurant.

Its arrival follows the completion last year of the £18m Music Works redevelopment of the opera company’s buildings on New Briggate and the adjacent Harrison Street.

And today Leeds City Council announced a major step forward for another project that is aiming to add some extra sparkle and shine to the area.

A view of the recently-pedestrianised lower end of New Briggate.

The council secured £1.3m worth of funding from Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) programme in 2020 to support the regeneration of New Briggate and give independent local businesses an ideal environment to trade and flourish.

Now, using part of that funding, the council has confirmed the award of its first New Briggate HAZ grant, which will be used to kick-start improvements to a line of four shops and commercial units opposite Leeds Grand Theatre, restoring their historic features and character.

Council chiefs say further HAZ improvement grants are in the pipeline for other properties on New Briggate with a view to making the famous old street a more attractive spot to visit, shop and live.

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council's executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “New Briggate is an area filled with history - its many and varied buildings have countless tales to tell after providing special memories over the years for generations of people from Leeds.

A view of the recently-pedestrianised lower end of New Briggate.

“It’s really pleasing, therefore, that the council is able to play its part in ensuring that this much-loved street can also look forward to a vibrant and successful future."

Coun Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “The city centre is already a fantastic place, but we are determined to make it even better and confirm it as a truly world-class destination that showcases and supports the very best of Leeds - its zest for life, its culture, its thriving businesses.

“New Briggate is a great example of how we are achieving that by implementing changes sensitively, with a full appreciation of the individual character and identity of different parts of the city centre, while also listening to and acting upon what local people want."

Richard Butterfield, from Historic England, said: “The hard work and commitment of all those involved is helping to enhance this part of the city and we are delighted that Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone funding is helping to bring this to fruition.”