The city of Leeds is set to be hit with a wave of new property developments this year as investors and developers rush to submit planning statements. The potential new developments include over 500 new homes as well as co-working spaces, enterprise hubs and thousands of feet of retail space. Some proposals involve redeveloping existing structures; others propose razing existing buildings and starting from the ground up. One ambitious plan may include new junctions at Westerton Road and Haigh Moor Road as well as an area of public green space.
New Leeds Property Developments
The Burley Library in Headingley, closed in February 2016 on health and safety grounds, has been awarded grade II status as of 2017 and is the subject of a proposal from the Park Lane Group with support from Yeme Architects. Located between The Glassworks and The Embankment developments, the project aims to convert the former library into a training, enterprise and co-working hub with a 5-storey extension containing 60 one-bedroom and studio apartments. This residential extension targets young professionals and is based on a co-living model with some shared facilities. The goal of the commercial section is to provide a space for freelancers and entrepreneurs to ply their craft, a practice which is often found to provide a significant boost to the local economy. Accredited training resources will be made available to apprentices and residents. Residents will also have access to the amenities of the nearby Glassworks and Embankment developments, also owned by the Park Lane Group.
According to the applicants, the development represents an “invaluable opportunity to restore and appropriately repurpose a signiﬁcant listed building in the heart of a residential community” and “seeks to improve local economic development, social interaction and broaden the accommodation options for young professionals after their studies.” The development will also include cycle storage and basement parking for 17 vehicles.
Leeds City Apartments has applied to redevelop the landmark Hope City Church in partnership with Carter Jonas and Brewster Bye Architects. The proposal provides for converting and extending the property into a combination of residential and commercial space. The residential portion is comprised of 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments, while the commercial section includes over 2000 square feet of retail space. The Hope City Church has seen a variety of uses in recent memory; originally the headquarters of the Leeds City Council library service, it has also seen use as medical clinic. Leeds City Apartments’ proposal would turn this vacant building into a “highly sustainable and accessible” housing location.
Meanwhile, an ageing mill near the Leeds-Liverpool canal is being considered as the site of almost 140 new residential properties and a series of commercial units. Rhodes Asset Management is working with ID Planning and Nick Brown Architects on a proposal to redevelop the Canal Mills site, demolishing the majority of the currently existing buildings and replacing them with new developments.
The applicants claim that the site, which is currently in use as a creative space for music and the arts, has fallen into a state of disrepair and could be better used as a “high quality mix of residential properties that complement the existing townscape of the area.” The proposed residential units are “dwellings are of an innovative design that will deliver much need quality housing to Leeds city centre, including family housing.” These apartments will be constructed on the canal side of the property in order to provide residents with pleasant views of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The Canal Mills site dates back to the 19th century and is host to a range of buildings that have seen use in textile and furniture manufacturing. The proposal does allow for preserving some grade II-listed structures at the front of the site.
Finally, plans have been submitted by the West Ardsley Development Consortium, Walker Morris and STEN to construct almost 300 new homes at a site off Haigh Moor Road and Westerton Road near Morley. The proposal allows for the construction of 299 new properties, a mix of apartments and one to five bedroom houses. Fifteen percent of the proposed homes would be earmarked for use as affordable housing. Currently under agricultural use, the site was allocated for housing in the May 2017 Leeds Site Allocations Plan draft submitted to secretary of state for housing, communities and local government. The proposal includes plans for new junctions at Westerton Road and Haigh Moor Road as well as an area of publicly accessible green space.
Although new developments such as these may significantly alter the local landscape and act as something of a hindrance or eyesore during construction, the net long term effect is a significant boon for both the city and people of Leeds. New developments provide sustainable living space in highly accessible locations, increasing economic engagement and overall happiness in the long run.
The provision of affordable, sustainable housing in an accessible location can be an enormous aid to recently graduated students entering the workforce or those who have fallen on hard times. Construction of such new sites also directly provides employment and economic incentives to the surrounding area, and nearby shops and commercial spaces stand to benefit greatly from increased local population (and therefore increased spending). Restorations and new developments also help by turning dilapidated eyesore properties into visually and economically attractive sites that boost the value of surrounding properties. Many of these proposals also include provisions that maintain the historical or environmental appeal of the original site, ensuring that Leeds can move forward without losing touch with the past.
The economic boost from increased local population and co-working initiatives such as those proposed at the Burley Library create jobs and help keep talented young professionals in the area, bolstering the local economy and fighting the dreaded “brain drain” seen in “unfashionable” cities across the globe.
For all their worries and inconveniences, new developments such as these are an essential part of the cycle of growth and change all cities must undergo to keep up with changing times. This wave of new development spells goods news for the city of Leeds and a brighter future for all who live there.