ANYONE who has seen the Kirkstall Forge development of housing and offices, named after the former industry on which it has been built, will have seen the care that is going into it. So the planning application for a £350m development by the same group - CEG - for the Southbank area of Leeds has to be welcomed.
The development will include office space and retail and will be near the station. But it will also include leisure, hotel, health, education and community uses, parking and up to 750 new homes, along with new public spaces and landscaping. It’s currently a derelict site so it could be argued that anything will be better than the nothing that is there now. But that’s not the case for Leeds.
Here we have a city in danger of becoming a ring-fenced central area of high-rise appartment and office blocks, pushing young families further out into the suburbs.
As Jonathan Morgan, MD of Morgan’s City Living in Leeds said in the YEP yesterday: “Why are we not building houses and just apartments? Large scale, low rise, family environments – if it is the case that people don’t want to buy, I don’t believe it.”
This potential development on the southbank has all the potential to include some of these, and become a natural gateway from Holbeck into the city centre and CEG have the skill to pull this off.
On the same day this news was announced it seems the Government’s expectations on housing in Leeds have changed overnight.
Government-appointed inspectors had been due to begin running the rule over Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP) blueprint next week. Four years in the making, the SAP sets out plans for the construction of 66,000 homes in 11 areas across Leeds up to 2028 and also earmarks land for future retail, employment and green space use.
Now it has emerged that the Government is separately consulting on new guidelines that could set Leeds a target of building 42,000 new homes by 2028. How did we suddenly seem to require 24,000 fewer homes? This seems to have come out of the blue, but more explanation is definitely needed.
The council must be robust in questioning the numbers set by Government, and we need them to be absolutely firm in outlining what kind of homes are needed, and ensuring they are built in the right places and with the right infrastructure.