First look at new £3.5m Leeds City Square designs

Early redesigns of Leeds City Square – which could see the pedestrianised area treble in size – have emerged, and are set to be discussed by council decision-makers next week.
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Proposed changes would mean City Square would include woodland and water features, with the entire area between the Queens Hotel and Mill Hill Chapel closed to general traffic.

Leeds City Council is keen to redevelop the area around the rail station, as it claims such an unpleasantly traffic-heavy city centre discourages investment into the city.

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This led to a strategy being published last year, in which the council also planned to completely revamp the area around Leeds City Station.

An artist's impression of the plans for city square.An artist's impression of the plans for city square.
An artist's impression of the plans for city square.

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.

The report, set to go before council decision-makers next week, said: “The Glade is designed to be for everyone. The design proposals account for the peak periods of pedestrians entering and exiting the station and moving on through to the city.

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“This is balanced by The Glade being welcoming for all generations, there is choice between shaded and open areas, resting spaces with benches that have a range of heights and back reset but are inclusive for all.”

It added that circulation spaces for wheelchairs and buggies would be included, as well as “a network of two-way cycle routes”.

“The approach to the city centre aims to overcome historic barriers and issues posed by dominant highways infrastructure advocated by the 1970’s ‘Leeds Motorway City’ approach to place and infrastructure in the city.

“Large swathes of through traffic contribute to climate issues, disconnect surrounding neighbourhoods from the city centre and discourage investment.

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“As part of this vision was the opportunity to reimagine City Square as the city’s premier area of public realm, through the closure of city square to through traffic enabled by rerouteing the Loop road and the repurposing of this infrastructure into new high quality public realm.”

The entire scheme 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.

Members of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will meet on Wednesday, June 23 to discuss the plans.