How is Leeds becoming a 21st century city?
A growing population and a focus on major industries has set aside Leeds as an unofficial capital city of the North. Regeneration is now propelling Leeds into the future with a number of projects designed to firmly establish the city as a major player in the UK’s economy.
Statistics published last year by the Centre for Cities shows how Leeds has the 3rd quickest growing city centre in the UK between 2002 and 2015. This is a clear mark of how the city is has improved as an urban centre in the last decade. It’s an encouraging statistic too, because it suggests the brain drain phenomenon – where local talent moves away – is not affecting this city. Leeds is a place for families and generations to grow.
Leeds also has one of the youngest populations in the UK, thanks in part to a large student population, but also as a hotbed of employment opportunities for ambitious young professionals. Financial and business services account for 38% of the total Leeds’ output and other key sectors include retail, leisure and the visitor economy, as well as construction, manufacturing and the creative and digital industries – this latter one being a big attraction for the younger generation of workers.
What is it that young professionals like In the 21st century,? A vibrant and stylish urban environment with plenty of opportunity to enjoy time outside of the 9-5. The Yorkshire Post recently published an article indicating Leeds’ ambition, and need, to become a “24-hour economy” in order to retain a thriving city centre. The key to this is a combination of ambitious city centre residential developments combined with high quality jobs in the service sector. This will drive further investment and regeneration into the area and help to cement Leeds as a prime example of urban living.
One of the best examples of regeneration in Leeds, in fact in Europe currently, is the South Bank project – worth over £350 million and introducing 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs. We’ve written about this incredibly ambitious before – you can have a look at our article here – but the main takeaway is that this project is set to double the economic output to the city centre and will perhaps be the largest contribution to creating a modern urban lifestyle in Leeds.
Here are 5 of our top picks, demonstrating how Leeds is changing for modern times:
1. The Holbeck Urban Village
A site of former industrial buildings on the South Bank has undergone an impressive regeneration, modernizing the area yet retaining a sense of past by protecting Listed Buildings. Today, Holbeck hosts about 400 businesses, mainly in the creative and digital sector, and is home to a population of between 600 and 1,000 people in its 15 hectare area.
2. Leeds Bradford Airport Upgrades
A new £12 million terminal building is set to add more facilities, space, retail and food and beverage options to the airport. The changes to boost efficiency and cut delay times, while bringing the airport in line with the city’s broader regeneration, and supporting overall economic growth.
The plans are part of the ‘Route to 2030 Strategic Development Plan’, aiming to increase passenger numbers from four million to seven million by 2030.
3. Innovation at Leeds’ University
A new centre for innovation at Leeds University has opened at a cost of £40 million. Business, health, engineering, data and environmental disciplines are now brought together in the new 6,684 square metre Nexus building, including 60 spacious offices, 12 purpose-built laboratories, 11 meeting rooms and a 120-seat lecture theatre all spread across 6 floors. A £13.5 million fitness and wellbeing centre offers a welcome break from intense research and study.
4. Refurbishment of the Leeds Playhouse
Who doesn’t like a play? The Leeds Playhouse, formerly known as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, has recently undergone a £15.8 million development. Many major changes have been made including redisgning the whole façade to orientate the theatre towards the city, providing better access to the 750 seat Quarry theatre. The new Playhouse also includes a third studio space – the Bramall Rock Void – as well as a new restaurant, café and bar, and improved public spaces.
5. A new icon on the skyline
As an example of prime real estate near the South Bank development, we’ve chosen the fantastic Springwell Gardens development, the next residential project to rival the likes of Candle House and become a part of the ever growing cityscape emerging in Leeds. With a sail like façade and terraced roof gardens, this development of luxury apartments is the renters dream. Strategically located on the important Whitehall Road, home to the new Government Hub, Yorkshire Post, NHS Digital and the HMRC, Springwell Gardens’ location makes it close to many amenities. Leeds Train Station, the city centre and the new £350 million CEG Holbeck urban village Southbank development are just 10 minutes’ walk away.