New riverside vision for south of Leeds city centre will embrace industrial heritage

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The next piece in the redevelopment jigsaw for the south of Leeds city centre will be discussed by senior Leeds councillors next week.

Proposals to transform Hunslet Riverside, which refers to the area directly to the south of Leeds Dock between Hunslet Road, the River Aire and the local centre of Hunslet, will be presented to Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday.

It is hoped the plans will complement developments at Leeds Dock and the adjoining South Bank. The latter is one of the largest city centre regeneration initiatives in Europe, with the potential to deliver 35,000 new jobs and 4,000 new homes. Similar guiding principles for the regeneration of the South Bank were approved by the executive board in July.

It is hoped the vision for Hunslet Riverside will eventually bring swathes of new housing and hundred of jobs for the local communities in Hunslet and Richmond Hill.

The plans also focus on bringing the key historic landmark buildings of Hunslet Mill and Victoria Mill back into use.

There would also be a focus on helping to attract families into that part of the city, boosting connectivity with the city centre through improved waterside routes, reducing the dominance of traffic, the possibility of building new pedestrian and cycle bridges across the River Aire, as well as improving the physical appearance of the area.

In terms of housing, capacity for 2,000 new homes within and around Hunslet Riverside has been identified in the Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan, which itself will be subject to public consultation starting later this month.

The principles include discussing regeneration possibilities with the various landowners in the Hunslet Riverside area, as well as working with developers and interested parties to optimise the use of council-owned land in that section of the city.

Improving the look and feel of the area is also to be considered, with enhancements to public areas including the waterfront and using art installations in the same way as those potentially being developed for the South Bank to animate and boost the local environment.

The plans aim to complement the developments already taking place around Hunslet Riverside, which include improvements and new investment at Leeds Dock, the new southern entrance at Leeds Rail Station, new companies moving into the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, and the significant education ‘cluster’ being developed to the west which is estimated to bring 10,000 students to the area every day when complete.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning councillor Richard Lewis said: “The area to the south of the city centre represents a massive opportunity to provide a huge long-term boost to the local and regional economy, but only if we get it right and ensure that the transformational benefits and opportunities are felt by all the local communities in the area.

“New developments in the South Bank and at Leeds Dock are very encouraging, but we need to make sure Hunslet Riverside is also at the forefront of this regeneration so that people in Hunslet, Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas can benefit.

“It’s also vital that we celebrate the heritage of this area and its role in placing the city at the forefront of the industrial revolution – conserving and re-using buildings like Hunslet and Victoria Mills are a big part of this and will be as important to the future of this area as they have been to its past.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to revitalise the area and work with stakeholders to attract investment and jobs, as well as making new homes and providing an inclusive, connected and desirable area where people and especially families want to live and visit.”

MP Rachel Reeves.

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