South Bank Leeds is a massive regeneration project aiming to double the size of Leeds city centre by transforming the ex-industrial area south of the River Aire. This 253 hectare space is the size of 350 football pitches, and will be transformed into a ‘globally distinctive’ destination for living, learning, creativity, leisure and investment. 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs are due to be created as part of this effort to make Leeds a standout city in the UK
What’s Happening on the South Bank?
South Bank Leeds has been a home for major companies from ASDA Walmart’s European headquarters and to SKY, for many years. Currently, there are 3,000 people living on the South Bank, alongside over 250 businesses. Thanks to over £500m of announced investment in what is one of Europe’s biggest ever regeneration projects, Leeds is set to become even more prosperous. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key initiatives:
• The acquisition of the Holbeck Portfolio Sites by the Commercial Estate Group, along with major proposals for a mixed-use development at this key strategic location
• Work to repair Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works progressing on site
• Vastint’s mixed use development proposals for the 22 acre Tetley Brewery Site including a City Park, their second investment in the UK and the first outside London
• Planning permission granted for over 1,000 new homes at Tower Works, Iron Works and Dandara with an increase in applications for 3 bedroom plus units
• City’s proposals for a £125m Climate Innovation District
• A further phase of development for Leeds College of Building in the area.
• The new HS2 station will be combined with Leeds train station and is set to welcome more passengers than Gatwick airport.
Among many unique elements of the South Bank is the commitment to retain elements of the area’s industrial past and historic sense of community, particularly in the Holbeck area. The South Bank Leeds project aims to reconnect these historic suburbs with Leeds City Centre once again, adapting historic buildings and giving them a new life in the 21st century.
At the heart of the development, a brand-new skyscraper will transform the city’s skyline. Forty storeys high and 142 metres tall, it will take the mantel of tallest building in Leeds from Bridgewater Place.
Plans have also been submitted to build 928 new residential properties in a sub-project called X1. The houses will be built on the old Evans Halshaw site off the A61, at a cost of more than £200 million. Comprising five separate buildings, each equipped with individual gyms and gardens, the development will also boast cafes, restaurants, offices and shops.
City living will be more in demand than ever, thanks to various developments within the South Bank Leeds area. For example, Arthur’s Fold boasts 101 brand-new apartments, with a mix of high-spec one and two bedroom units. It also has the added extras that are a prerequisite for urban living – a gym, lounge and cinema for residents. Prices for the apartments start at £122,500, a clear indication of the sheer value for money investors can expect.
High Speed Rail 2 and transport
Special mention should be given to the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) initiatives, alongside the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail, which are due to transform connectivity in the Northern Regions and between the North, Midlands and the South.
Leeds trains station is already the busiest in the North of England, but the above projects are forecasted to increase growth by a massive 143% growth. A particular regeneration focus is therefore earmarked around the station area to transform it into a thoroughly modern and thriving transport hub.
There are enormous benefits to the planned investment in rail will, including bringing people together; bringing new markets within reach; enabling innovation; bringing new talent to employers and, for new jobs to be within reach of people.
The 10 key areas
You can find out very detailed information from the informative South Bank Leeds Regeneration Framework. One key section of the framework is the focus on 10 key ‘areas of movement’ – the main aspects of the overarching South Bank initiative. We’ll break them down here so you can get a sense of the whole picture.
1. Connecting the green & blue network
Making the River Aire, and areas close to it, world-class leisure space in the very centre of the city centre, creating places for people of all ages to enjoy using best practice in sustainable design.
2. A legible & accessible public transport network
Public transport needs to be prioritised and able to provide access to all areas of the city, supported by a safe, comfortable and attractive pedestrian core spanning the river, and which will complement the existing Public Transport Box.
3. Create a rationalised & distributed road hierarchy
Traffic will be encouraged to move around the city centre rather than through it. The Inner Ring Road will have the greatest volume of traffic, while a proposed City Boulevard will accommodate slower moving vehicles, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists in a pleasant and safe environment.
4. Improve access beyond the Inner Ring Road
Improved links across the Inner Ring Road between South Bank and the neighbourhoods of Holbeck, Beeston, Hunslet, Cross Green and Saxton Gardens will allow greater freedom of movement, better social and cultural integration, and improved access to services and amenities.
5. Implement a sustainable public transport and parking strategy
Increase the use of sustainable forms of transport through appropriate infrastructure and use of demand management to ensure development takes place in locations that are easily accessible by a variety of sustainable transport modes.
6. Activate the waterfront
Recaptures its role as a focus of activity, with quality public space and new attractions. It is connected to surrounding neighbourhoods by the strategic green network.
7. Adapt heritage & link existing assets
There is an opportunity to strengthen the identity of the South Bank through the adaptation and reuse of heritage buildings together with the integration of adjacent assets.
8. Create and revitalise centres
Creation of a pedestrian core spanning the river (complementing the existing Public Transport Box) which is served by high quality public transport to connect to both the HS2 station and South Bank to the rest of the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods.
9. Improve resilience & sustainability
Innovative ideas to mitigate the potential implications of floods, including potential flood channels.
10. Utilise culture to help placemaking
Culture to be celebrated and an integral part of the approach to placemaking in the South Bank.
South Bank Leeds it a staggering regeneration project; it is a truly unique project to revolutionise such a large segment of a city.
This year the ambition of the South Bank project has been recognised by being shortlisted for the 2020 Urbanism ‘The Great Neighbourhood’ Award, celebrating the best neighbourhood environments in Europe. We think that this is one of Europe’s most significant regeneration projects and is a clear winner. There’s no doubt that Leeds’ identity is being reimagined for the 21st century, but we’re also excited that the industrial heritage of the city is being retained throughout these changes.
Doubling the economic impact of Leeds city-centre will further cement the city as a major player in the UK’s economy.
At Aspen Woolf we have a number of developments in Leeds – the number 1 forecast city in the UK for house price and rental growth. You can see our projects here.